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In address to blind and deaf, Pope reflects on cultures of encounter and exclusion

Catholic World News - March 31, 2014

Addressing members of the Apostolic Movement for the Blind and the Little Mission for the Deaf, Pope Francis emphasized that “to be witnesses of the Gospel, we must first have encountered” Christ.

As he cited the example of the Samaritan woman, the Pope said in his March 29 address that Jesus loved to encounter those who were “marginalized, excluded, despised” and make them his witnesses. “We think of the many people Jesus wanted to meet, especially those people marked by illness and disability, to heal and restore them to full dignity.”

Turning to the Gospel account of the healing of the man born blind, Pope Francis noted that Jesus clearly taught that the man was not blind because of God’s punishment, but in order to manifest God’s work. Following his encounter with Jesus, the man who was healed of his blindness witnessed to Jesus and shared in Jesus’ exclusion and rejection.

“Here are two opposing cultures,” the Pope added. “The culture of encounter and the culture of exclusion, the culture of prejudice … Only those who recognize their own fragility and their own limitations can build fraternal relations and solidarity, in the Church and in society.”

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