Pope Francis holds hands with Valentina, an Italian girl with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Pope Francis holds hands with Valentina, an Italian girl with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome 

Pope expresses closeness to people with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome

Pope Francis draws attention to the rare genetic disorder known as Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, and encourages an Italian volunteer association in its efforts to raise awareness.

By Devin Watkins

Cornelia de Lange Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder which affects around 1 in 10,000 to 30,000 newborns and leads to slow growth, intellectual disability, and bone abnormalities in the upper body.

Pope Francis met on Saturday with members of the “Cornelia de Lange Association”, an Italian non-profit association, to spread the word about the genetic condition.

He especially greeted an Italian man named Vincenzo Placida, who ran nearly 700 km to arrive at the papal audience.

Mr. Placida began his journey in Vigonovo, near the northern city of Venice, to raise awareness about the Syndrome, by which his daughter Valentina is affected, and to raise money for the association dedicated to helping people like her.

Pope Francis with Vincenzo Placida
Pope Francis with Vincenzo Placida

Near to the most vulnerable

The Pope expressed his closeness to all who live with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome.

“This rare genetic condition causes discomfort and great difficulties for those who are affected by it and for their family members. I express my closeness and understanding to them, and encourage them not to grow disheartened by the obstacles they face in their journey.”

Pope Francis also thanked the Association’s volunteers for their work to be near “to our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.”

“A culture of solidarity offers a concrete expression of how to build a fraternal society, which has the human person as its center,” he said.

Making society more Christian

The Pope added that volunteers demonstrate the love of God and love of neighbor, in response to Jesus’ invitation in the Gospel.

“The charity of God makes us realize that others are brothers and sisters to be welcomed. For this reason, as you volunteers carry out your caring activities, you also contribute to giving a more human and more Christian face to our society.”

Pope Francis wrapped up his greetings to the Cornelia de Lange Association with an encouragement to serve others in a spirit of tenacity and unity.

“May you be witnesses to goodness and tenderness!” he said.

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14 May 2022, 11:26