“Pope,” meaning “father,” is the honorary title for the bishop of Rome, head of the Roman Catholic Church and Vatican City and leader of an estimated 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide. The current pope, born to Italian immigrants in Argentina, took the pastoral name “Francis” upon his election to the role in 2013. He is the first pope from the Americas and the first pope from south of the equator.
For the International Symposium at the Vatican on Hansen’s Disease, held Jan. 23-24, 2023, Pope Francis contributed a written message, which was read at the event’s opening by Sister Alessandra Smerilli F.M.A., Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Here we share two selected quotations from the English translation:
“[W]e must seize the opportunity of World Leprosy Day to revise our models of development, and to denounce and try to correct the discrimination they cause. This is a fitting occasion to try to renew our commitment to building an inclusive society that leaves no-one at the margins.”
“Specifically, we must ask ourselves how best to collaborate with people affected by leprosy, treating them fully as people, recognizing them as the key protagonists in their struggle to participate in fundamental human rights and to live as fully-fledged members of the community.”
Read the full text of Pope Francis’s message here.