In the last days much has been written about comments made on the national station with regards to disabilities as fruit of original sin. I, myself have struggled with this Biblical narrative for several years. However, the Church’s teaching shows us that such an approach provides a shallow reading of what is meant by ‘perfection/imperfection’ in the creation story.
When we view people with disabilities as “unperfect” or inferior, we risk embracing a utilitarian view of humanity. In a utilitarian mindset, a person’s goodness or value is determined by their ability to contribute to society in a specific, measurable way. This perspective can lead to the exclusion and marginalization of those who do not meet the conventional standards of physical or functional perfection. It reduces human beings to mere instruments of utility, ignoring their intrinsic worth as individuals created in the image of a loving and merciful God.
On a number of occasions, Pope Francis has warned that such a utilitarian view not only devalues those with disabilities but threatens the moral fabric of society. It encourages a culture of exclusion and discrimination, where people are judged based on their perceived usefulness and productivity. In contrast, inspired by Catholic Social teaching, the Pope emphasizes that every person, regardless of their physical abilities, possesses a unique and irreplaceable dignity. He calls on society to embrace a culture of encounter and inclusion, where every individual is respected, valued, and loved for who they are, rather than what they can or cannot do.
In essence, I believe that this whole episode should act as a reminder that our true measure of goodness should not be rooted in physical abilities but in our capacity for compassion, empathy, and love for one another. Embracing this perspective encourages a more just and humane society that values every person as a cherished member of the human family, irrespective of their physical condition or abilities.