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REX/Heathcliff O'Malley
UK News

Justin Welby says he doesn't pray for healing for daughter's disability

by Tola Mbakwe

Speaking on BBC's Ouch podcast with his daughters Katharine and Ellie, Most Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury said: "I haven't prayed for Ellie.

"I haven't talked to Ellie about this [but] we had this discussion once around the [family] table when Ellie wasn't there, because someone had asked me the question."

Turning to Ellie, he said: "Your younger sister said, 'If God changed Ellie she wouldn't be Ellie, and we love Ellie'. So there's that thing that Ellie's Ellie, she's precious."

Ellie added: "I have felt a bit like, well, if God heals, why am I still dyspraxic? Why do I still find it really difficult to do things? But at the same time it doesn't change the way I trust God."

Archbishop Justin revealed that while he doesn't pray for Ellie to be healed from dyspraxia, he does pray for his daughter Katharine's mental health problem "on a daily basis".

Corin Piling deputy director of Christian disability charity Livability said Christians shouldn't be quick to assume every person with a disability needs God to heal them.

He told Premier News Hour: "We may perceive someone who is living with a disability as somehow being imperfect, but actually their experience and their very creative nature is testament to the fact they are made in the image of God and I think that is something that is very important that we elevate.

"Everybody's experience of disability is deeply personal.

"For all the challenges that many people might face with that, many people also recognise that it offers them a very different experience of the world and that's something we need to consider as we engage with it in terms of how we relate to, how we welcome and how we ensure people who are disabled have a way to fully participate in our communities."

Archbishop Justin also said the Church of England needs to do more for those with disabilities and mental health problems.

He commented on how many of the Church's 9,000 buildings are ill-equipped, with heritage protection trumping accessibility law.

During the interview he said: "I find it absolutely extraordinary that disability access comes second to heritage.

"I really find that bizarre. Well, that's one way of saying we don't care about you, isn't it?"

He said his two daughters had "really brought it to the front of my mind".

Ellie said: "They're very friendly in my church, but sometimes I can feel a bit out of place there.

"I have struggled a lot. People have looked at me and basically - I know the look now - it's literally like 'You're not disabled, why are you sitting there?', or 'Why can't you do this?'
"I've been discriminated against quite a few times because they don't understand it."

Piling told Premier churches need to recognise their pitfalls in including people with disabilities.

"We need to start looking more closely around who is within our community and congregation," he said.

"Not every disability will be visible and often that will take some care and attention and good conversations.

"The church isn't complete unless there are disabled people in it. It's a healthy community that mirrors the body of Christ."

Lambeth Palace will hold a conference on disability and inclusion this month.

Listen to Corin Piling speaking with Premier's Tola Mbakwe here:

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