Extract from Cristina Gangemi, “A Space to Grow: The Church and Women who are Intellectually Disabled” in Shared Visions:
Disabled women, especially women who are intellectually disabled, face particular challenges when seeking to respond to and activate their own personal call to vocation within the “ecclesial community … where God’s call is born, nourished and expressed.”[i] Because of what I call a “hierarchy of ability” in the sensus fidelium, disabled people have been largely conspicuous by their absence within the active and participatory life of vocation in parish communities. This absence has resulted in an experience of lament for disabled women who are prevented from exercising their place of belonging.
In sharing my own journey of vocation with disabled people and through the lens of disability theology, I have come to understand how women might face a “double discrimination” within the ecclesial community. I suggest that the Church is enriched where the vocations of disabled women and men are recognised and enabled.
[i] Pope Francis, “Message for the 54th World Day of Prayer for Vocations,” 27 November 2016, at https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/vocations/documents/papa-francesco_20161127_54-messaggio-giornata-mondiale-vocazioni.html.