The magisterium of fragility

This is the authority of people with disabilities: in the awareness of their limits, they find the wisdom to trust. This magisterium of fragility, of which Pope Francis speaks with great force, our columnist Cyril Douillet discovered it as a deep mystery that deserves to be brought to as many people as possible.

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This isn’t the first time he’s used the phrase. In his message on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, last December 3, Pope Francis again referred to “the magisterium of frailty”. Describing a spirituality combining acceptance of one’s weaknesses and the power of God, to which people with a disability bear witness, he writes: “It is a real magisterium of fragility which, if it were listened to, would make our societies more human and fraternal by leading everyone to understand that happiness is a bread that cannot be eaten alone. »

What strength in this expression! Through it, the Pope not only shows himself to be compassionate with the most fragile among us; it not only shows an inclusive aim, according to the terms promoted by our company; it recognizes that people with disabilities have a special authority and legitimacy in bearing witness to their faith. We can say that it is a small Copernican revolution, even if it joins the prophetic intuition of many saints, starting with Saint Vincent de Paul, who said: “The poor are our masters. »

This magisterium of fragility is a profound mystery that deserves to be brought to the greatest number, in our time lacking in hope.

What does this specific magisterium consist of? The pope gives this clarification: “Trust in the Lord […] is a wisdom that grows as we become aware of our own limitations, and which allows us to appreciate even more the loving choice of the Almighty to bend down on our weakness. It is an awareness that frees from the sadness of complaint — even the most justified — and allows the heart to open to praise. Anyone who experiences fragility — the disabled, but also the sick and the elderly — and consents to it allows himself to be approached by the presence of God, who comes to make up for human weakness.

A path for all Christians

This is a great secret, to which I can testify after ten years spent at Shadows and Light and the OCH Foundation. How many times have I felt humbled by the testimony received from people with disabilities, or their loved ones who so often share the feeling of fragility… How many times have I been edified by the path of resurrection traveled by those who the heavy cross of welcoming a child with multiple disabilities or a mental illness… when he is accompanied and supported. Yes, this magisterium of fragility is a profound mystery that deserves to be brought to as many people as possible, in our time lacking in hope. This is why, because of this authority, people with disabilities carry a special mission, explains the Pope: “The magisterium of frailty is a charism with which you – sisters and brothers with disabilities – can enrich the ‘Church. Your presence “can help transform the realities in which we live, making them more human and welcoming. Without vulnerability, without limits, without obstacles to overcome, there would be no true humanity” (in The Church is our homesynthesis of the special synodal consultation of persons with disabilities)”.

This is a message that can warm our hearts cooled by scandals, fears, sadness of all kinds. As Christmas approaches, this teaching may point to a path for all Christians, whether or not they have a disability, because there is something to live together, never alone. After all, isn’t the coming of the Savior in the person of a little child, born in a manger, the most blatant illustration of the “magisterium of frailty”?


The magisterium of fragility