On Nov 22, 2014, Washington Post reporter Michelle Boorstein had the story, Pope turns to help the autistic at next Vatican conference
. It was about the autism conference held at the Vatican Nov 20-22.
Boorstein wrote, “Experts from 57 countries updated one another on such issues as genetic research, pain management and government policies toward people with autism.”
The current rate of one in every 68 children in the U.S. was noted in the story. There were calls for inclusion and awareness of autism.
Readers were told, “The church’s role is also sensitive. So much research goes into preventive medical discoveries, which could lead to a genetic marker for autism that could then lead to more abortions – similar to what has happened with Down syndrome.”
Boorstein seemed to be telling people that the only way to PREVENT autism is by finding the genetic markers and aborting a baby who could potentially end up with autism. She mentioned that Bob and Suzanne Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, are Catholic, and she brought up the controversy over vaccines and autism: “The Wrights said they hope the church will see autism as an issue because it challenges and divides many families. They said they themselves have had a dispute with their daughter – the mother of their autistic grandson – over the role of vaccines.”
Boorstein had this to say on the topic of vaccines and autism, “Organizing any conference on autism – which affects one in every 68 children, according to Autism Speaks – is challenging because of the range of opposing views on such issues as the role of vaccines in autism spectrum disorder. The conference didn’t touch on vaccines but includes a presentation on other potential environmental impacts.”
It seemed that the elephant in the room, as usual when the subject of autism is brought up, was the link to vaccines. Participants were willing to talk about genetics and the possibility of “environmental impacts,” but not vaccines.
Also on Nov 22, a story on the conference was released from the official Vatican News Network titled, Francis: overcome the isolation that burdens the autistic and their families
“The Holy Father today received in audience the participants in the 29th International Conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Workers (for Health Pastoral Care), dedicated to autism, including persons affected by this disorder and their families.”
A lot of it was the usual call for “acceptance, encounter and solidarity” that we’re all so used to hearing about.
In the midst of the article was this paragraph: Pope Francis went on to thank, personally and on behalf of the Church, the families and religious groups and various associations present for the work they carry out every day with persons affected by autism, and encouraged scholars and researchers in the arduous task of discovering therapies and support mechanisms in the treatment and above all the prevention of these disorders. He concluded, “All this is to be done with the necessary attention to the rights of those affected, considering their needs and their potential, and always safeguarding the dignity of every person.”
There was an incredible line in there. The Pope was calling for “above all the prevention of these disorders.” The same day that Michelle Boorstein told us that preventing autism involved finding genetic markers that could lead to aborting babies–something the Catholic Church would abhor–the Pope was making prevention a priority. Clearly, the Pope doesn’t see defective genes as the cause of autism.
This is a stunning revelation–one unlikely to be circulated in the mainstream news. What does the Holy Father know about autism? Does he question the fact that the rate applies to eight year olds, not eighty year olds? Even though the Vatican Autism Conference purposely DIDN’T discuss the link to vaccines, does Pope Francis know that unvaccinated children aren’t afflicted with a one in 68 rate of autism?
Autism is a worldwide disaster everyone is living with. The cost of this disabled population impacts every national economy and it will only get worse. Let’s hope the Catholic Church is willing to pursue this further and address autism as the health are emergency that it clearly is.