Disability and Suffering?
Pastoral and Theological Considerations
“Suffering” is a difficult topic at the crossroads of disability studies and pastoral care. On the one hand, people with disabilities want to clearly distinguish impairments from the sense of suffering, urging that the latter does not necessarily follow the former. This is in part a reaction to historically paternalistic attitudes manifest in and through pastoral care directed to people with disabilities. This paper focuses on how to empower appropriately discerning pastoral praxis so that ecclesial ministry occurs with people with disabilities and their families/caregivers rather than only to them. Such an approach unfolds in solidarity with the genuine suffering of people with disabilities rather than perpetuates the kind of social stigmatization that causes existential and psychological pain even for those who do not otherwise suffer physically.