Living Fully 2016; Embracing the gifts of all people, especially people who live with Disability

11/05/2016 12:00 pm

What is Living Fully 2016?

The Kairos forum, a disability consultant to the bishops of England and Wales, have been invited by the Pontifical Council for Culture to stage two unique events in Rome. The events will explore and celebrate the important place and value of disabled people in culture, church and in the study of theology: an academic symposium ‘Exploring Disability, Theology, Practice and Culture’, on 23 June, at No 5 Via della Conciliazione, and conference ‘Disability, Culture and Faith – A Celebration’, on 24-26 June, at LUMSA University, Borgo Sant'Angelo. Both events celebrate the lives and stories of disabled people within culture and faith and introduces the of the study of disability theology from within a cultural perspective. One unique feature of the Living fully events will be a creative parallel program for people who have been intellectually disabled. Here creative delegates will enjoy time exploring their faith and life and the important place of belonging they hold within the Body of Christ and His Church


The lives of disabled people are often seen within a negative concept of being human. This culture of ‘less than human’ is sometimes in danger of filtering in to the Church, where the spiritual and religious needs of disabled people are often excluded from its general practice. Disability is not a specialism within the Church but is an intrinsic part of who we are, as the Body of Christ, for all life is gift and the beauty of diversity is ‘usual’. The events will foster international communities, where disabled people have a place of belonging and where their lives are celebrated. Our charter for change will be given to each delegate, who will in turn take it’s inspiring message of belonging, value and welcome, back to their own country.

Who is involved

The Kairos Forum and Pontifical Council for Culture are co-patrons for these events, with Kairos developing, coordinating and presenting both. Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche community is also a patron and advocate for the events. The conference enjoys stories from disabled people, which will be reflected upon by leading voices and theologians such as Hans Reinders, Miguel Romero and Bill Gaventa, who are foundational in the development of this exciting area of theological studies.

Vatican Radio interview Cristina Gangemi, a disability adviser to the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and the Director of the Kairos Forum. The journalist asks her how far we have come and what strides still need to be made regarding acceptance and accessibility for people with disabilities.