Zapoznać się z osobami z Zespołem Downa


    Po audiencji na Placu świętego Piotra, portale internetowe i gazety opowiadały o przepięknym geście Ojca Świętego Franciszka: wziął do Papamobile osobę z Zespołem Downa. Wielka wiadomość od razu: niesamowite, coś nowego, wspaniałe! I przy tej okazji napotkałem to zdjęcie tego człowieka z Papieżem, który - przyznam się szczerze - naprawdę cieszy bardzo. Jak ojciec z synem.

    Sensacja?? No, niewątpliwie TAK! Kto by nie chciał przejechać się z Papieżem po placu w Papamobile?? Ja pewnie pierwszy bym był w kolejce - pomimo całej "powagi" mojej pracy przy Stolicy Apostolskiej w Rzymie.

    Ale jest tu coś więcej. Pragnę podzielić się z Wami właśnie tą prostotą i głębią w tak zwyczajnym geście: spotkanie człowieka z drugim człowiekiem, by po prostu być dla niego.

    To nie sensacja. To być chrześcijaninem.

    Dzielę się z Wami artykułem (niestety po angieslku), który otrzymałem parę dni po tym wydarzeniu. Myślę, że warto przeczytać. Zostańcie z Bogiem!

- padre matteo

Befriending those with Down Syndrome

      An alliance of Art, Beauty and Special Sensitivity...

Italy celebrates a National Down Syndrome day during the first half of October (as opposed to the International Awareness day on March 21), and these occasions always seems like a good moment to check and see how this woefully endangered species of people with Trisomy 21 are faring.

On the surface, much seems unaltered -- same old intolerance toward “different” people, pronounced by a society where sameness, whether among genders or through the offices of plastic surgery, is the new ideal. Parents are “burdened," children are “cursed," yadda, yadda, but as the mother of a 10-year-old boy with Down Syndrome, this ignorant mantra has grown dull. People with Trisomy 21 add color and spice to life, through their special ability to evoke creative ways to love and new perceptions of human achievement.

Over the last few months however, there have been some interesting developments. On June 19, Pope Francis made everyone at the Wednesday audience wish for Trisomy 21, when he invited 17-year-old Alberto di Tullio to climb onto the Popemobile and spin in his own chair. The sincere affection of Pope Francis showed the world, more than any article or statistic, how easy it is to love those who appear different -- I don’t think there are many in the world who would say no to a joyride in the papal car.

Then, a few weeks later, the birth of the first child of the Prince and Princess of Wales again drew the spotlight to people with Trisomy 21. In keeping with the relaxed royal style of the couple, they asked for no gifts to be sent to newborn Prince George, but made a special exception for a painting by Tazia Fawly, a 43-year-old British painter with Down Syndrome. The painting had been offered to the couple by the organization Heart and Sold, which supports artists with Trisomy 21. Indeed Fawly is only one of 20 artists represented.

It appears that art comes naturally to these very sensitive people. Last month a former student drew my attention to an art exhibition in Rome at the Galleria Arte Maggiore comprised of works by people with varying disabilities. The exhibit displayed 14 portraits inviting viewers to look at and relate to people that perhaps on a day-to-day basis they would be inclined to ignore.

The artists come from all over Europe: Estonia, Italy, Austria, France and the Netherlands -- areas known for the most aggressive push to abort children identified with genetic disabilities -- and yet these faces, creatively, colorfully, intensely or sketchily rendered, speak of thoughts, feelings and perceptions trying to get out and be shared.

Many other countries are looking to tap the creative reserves of people with Trisomy 21. The Mexican School of Down Art has been teaching young people to express themselves through art especially when speech is too difficult. 

The works of artists with Down Syndrome tend to be bright, limpid and cheerful. Crisp outlines frame vivid colors. My favorites, including the one given by Tazia Fawly, have a vague resemblance to the coveted art of the Australian aborigines. These Dreamings, as they are called, are darlings of the art market and have taken museums by storm. 

The many works by developmentally disabled artists open our eyes to hidden talents, but also open the mind and heart to appreciate how little we understand these extraordinary people. History has shown that the world forgives a great artist everything from philandering to madness to murder, but with a 90% abortion rate for Down Syndrome, most of these budding artists don’t even get a chance to get out of the womb.

That art, beauty and Down Syndrome would go hand in hand was not lost in the Renaissance. A painting by an anonymous Flemish artist from the 16th century shows the first recorded image of a person with Down Syndrome, portrayed as nothing less than an angel at the feet of the Christ Child.

(excerpt taken from [Sept. 26th, 2013] - author: Elizabeth LEV)