By Estefania Aguirre

Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) – The Vatican observed World Autism Awareness Day April 2 by calling on Christians to recognize the Risen Christ in autistic people and increase solidarity with them.

“The Council wishes to share with people who suffer because of autism, the hope and certainty that adherence to Love enables us to recognize the Risen Christ every time that he makes himself our neighbor on the journey of life,” said the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski.

“Setting oneself to listen must necessarily be accompanied by an authentic fraternal solidarity,” the archbishop said in his April 2 message.

Today is the sixth year of World Autism Awareness Day, and the Vatican released the message to express solidarity with those suffering from the disorder and their families.

“Such solidarity (…) becomes a loving presence and compassionate nearness for those who suffer, following the example and in imitation of Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan who by his passion, death and resurrection redeemed humanity,” said Archbishop Zimowski.

“The Church with humility proposes the way of service to the suffering brother, accompanying him with compassion and tenderness,” he added.

Archbishop Zimowski advocated for people with disabilities being allowed to participate in social life as far as they are able. The “world of rights,” he said quoting Blessed John Paul II, cannot be only for the healthy.

The message also quoted from Pope Francis, who said in the first days of his papacy, “we must not allow a one-dimensional vision of the human person to prevail, according to which man is reduced to what he produces and to what he consumes: this is one of the most dangerous snares of our time.”

The pontifical council president also noted that the Church supports people affected by autism through parishes, associations and Church movements, and he encouraged them to “take advantage” of what is being offered.

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