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 CNS Story:

AUTISM DAY Apr-2-2014 (170 words) xxxi

Vatican official urges greater efforts to help those with autism

By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While it may be a huge challenge, the Catholic Church must find ways to offer support to families with a child who has autism, include people with autism in church activities and fight the prejudice surrounding the learning disability, a Vatican official said.

The church's efforts must be "directed toward ensuring that hope is not extinguished" in either persons with an autism disorder or in their family members, said Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.

In a message released April 2, the day the United Nations marks as World Autism Awareness Day, the archbishop announced that his office's annual international conference would be dedicated to autism-spectrum disorders.

The three-day meeting in November will bring together physicians, scientists, researchers, pastors, parents and volunteers to discuss practical ways to help people with autism and their families, the archbishop said.

The goal is to increase people's sense of hope, giving them strength to combat the temptations of discouragement and surrender, he said.

END


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