JORDAN - On Thursday, April 8, 2021, Our Lady of Peace Center for people with disabilities, affiliated to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in collaboration with the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, organized a virtual conference about Autism Spectrum Disorder, in which participated a selection of scholars, to address the most prominent scientific and therapeutic developments in Autism, especially concerning speech therapy and rehabilitation.
During the opening session, professor Riccardo Redaelli, Director of the Center for Research on the Southern System and Wider Meditteranean (CRISSMA), of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, observed that this virtual conference comes in conjunction with World Autism Awareness Day which falls on April 2 of each year.
His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, gave thanks to the organizers of this prominent initiative, touching upon the circumstances following the pandemic which revealed inequality between people around the world, especially regarding the right to access health services.
Patriarch Pizzaballa shed light on the importance of the conference which will help provide further inspiration by people of relevant expertise, in order to take the necessary steps and raise awareness regarding people with disabilities. The conference will also draw attention to new ways and methods to promote awareness and integration in the Jordanian society.
The Bishop of Jerusalem expressed his gratitude towards the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart for its support to the Latin Patriarchate through the center of Our Lady of Peace, which was established in 2004 to provide free daily services in a loving and welcoming environment to those with disabilities, regardless of their religious, social and economical backgrounds, hoping this conference will be the first for more initiatives and activities for the benefit of the Jordanian society at large.
Professor Franco Anelli, Rector of the Catholic University of Milan, thanked the organizers of this virtual conference and the people following him on the internet, noting that the existing cooperation between the university and Our Lady of Peace Center will go on, for it is also part of the approach and identity of the university, which is celebrating the centenary of its establishment this year, in presenting its message of solidarity, commitment and international cooperation.
For his part, Marco Caselli, Director of the University Center for International Solidarity (Cesi), noted that the center was established in 2006 aiming to coordinate all the initiatives and programs launched by the Catholic University of Milan at the international cooperation level, sustaining human development such as promoting citizenship and the contribution of the people to the protection of our common home, and the pursuit of an ideal model for social progress, inspired by the values mentioned in the encyclical of Pope Paul VI “Populorum Progressio” in 1967.
In his speech, Fr. Shawki Baterian, Director of Our Lady of Peace Center, noted that the conference addressed a very important topic, due to the large number of people with autism in Jordan and the world. He stressed that since the establishment of the center, it has been providing integrated and comprehensive rehabilitation and educational services, free of charge, to help those with disabilities improve the quality of their daily lives, and to strengthen their involvement and engagement in the local society and its institutions.
Fr. Shawki stated that “this center is one of a kind, both in Jordan and the Middle East. It provides high-quality services to Jordanians regardless of their religious, social and economical backgrounds, in addition to the Syrian and Iraqi refugees through its head office in Amman, and its second branch in Aqaba, along with other external units in Zarqa, Al-Mafraq and Anjara which all work together to guarantee a sacred human dignity.”