Pope John Paul II wrote the following in his encyclical, Catechesi Tradendae: From the theological point of view every baptized person, precisely by reason of being baptized, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to enter in a truly Christian life.
Providing flexible options of religious education for children with autism, while supporting parents in their own spirituality and God-given role as catechist, is primary. Every child deserves an individualized program of faith formation and catechesis that will work best for him or her. Whether taught in a classroom structure, or by their parents at home with provided guidance, lesson plans, materials, and parental gatherings, all children have a right to a religious education. In their “Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities,” the U.S. Bishops state:
By reason of their baptism, all Catholics are equal in dignity in the sight of God and have the same divine calling.
Catholics with disabilities have a right to participate in the sacraments as fully functioning members of the local ecclesial community.
Parish sacramental celebrations should be accessible to persons with disabilities and open to their full, active, and conscious participation.
Bringing autistic children to the sacraments and Catholic worship is an important component of a religious education program. It is a positive challenge for director, catechist, and parent working together as a team that enables the child to encounter his or her God on a personal level.