Pope Francis to Hold First Official Audience With the Blind, Deaf

The March 29 meeting will take place in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall.

Jakob and Paul Badde meet with Blessed John Paul II on Nov. 17, 1980.
Jakob and Paul Badde meet with Blessed John Paul II on Nov. 17, 1980. (photo: Courtesy of Paul Badde)

VATICAN CITY — As the first pope to meet with those who are blind and deaf in an exclusive audience, Pope Francis will hold the gathering later this month — an encounter participants are highly anticipating.

“I am pleased that the Pope is making the whole world aware of our world by having an audience with us for the first time,” Jakob Badde told CNA on March 10. “We have a great deficiency, and most people do not know why and what it means to us.”

Badde hails from Germany — he is the son of Vatican journalist Paul Badde, former Rome correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt — and is one of the members of the deaf community who will participate in the encounter with the Pope.

The event is scheduled on the calendar of the Holy See Press Office for March 29. Badde explained that, after investigation, “there has never been an official audience for the deaf.”

“There have probably always been deaf [people] at [events of] other popes on the side. But a pope has never invited us on the basis of being deaf,” he said.

 Pope Francis, Badde said, has “invited us for the audience in Rome, in the center of the Church, and we are looking forward to it.”

On the importance of such an encounter for the deaf and blind communities, Badde emphasized that “we all do live a full life, with joy and sorrow, and we constantly communicate with each other. That is why the meeting with the Pope is of utmost importance.”

Speaking of his personal expectations, Badde expressed his hope that “we can develop a personal relationship with the Successor of the apostle Peter through this encounter.”

“When I was little and went with my father to Fulda to see Pope John Paul II, he blessed me and kissed me on both ears,” he recalled, adding, “It would be nice if Pope Francis could change the lives of all of us who are deaf for the better.”

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