"We must avoid any attempt to define limits and boundaries as to how much understanding is necessry for faith in God to be evident in a person's life. Jesus accepted the praise of mere children..." Janet Morel
I have noticed lately that there is a lot of talk regarding Baptism and the severely disabled. More and more people with cognitive disabilities are becoming visible and actively engaged in their communities. They are no longer living a life of obscurity and isolation. The church is becoming more aware of the needs - spiritual, physical and social - of those folks in their community with disabilities.
To that end the church is realizing the need to reach out to the disabled in their community and welcoming the disabled into their midst. Now the church finds itself needing to consider issues of the disabled, especially with regards to baptism and other sacraments within the church.
How does the church measure ones ability to understand the significance of baptism? Perhaps a good indicator of an adult with disabilities' readiness for baptism is the church's ability to recognize and utilize that person's gift, rather than the individual's ability to make a reasoned confession of faith. In order for the church to truly become the body of Christ in baptism, it is important to recognize that people with disabilities are central to the function and being of the church life.
In the end, in the diverseness that forms the body of Christ, the question we must ask ourselves is not whether, or under what circumstances we should baptize people with disabilities, but rather, can we be the body of Christ without them?
Can we truly be the church without the witness of their brokenness and the presence of their gifts?