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Pope Francis calls for ‘tender love’ of elderly


Parishes are being asked to mark the Fourth World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly on Sunday July 28.

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Archbishop O’Regan wrote to parishes last month encouraging them to hold local initiatives such as a Eucharistic celebration with grandparents and the elderly and a visit to those living in solitary conditions.

Resources prepared for parishes by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life include a message from the Holy Father based on the passage from Psalm 71 Do not cast me off in my old age, which recalls the heartfelt plea to the Lord not to be left alone in old age.

In the message, Pope Francis says all too often loneliness is the “bleak companion of our lives as elderly persons and grandparents”.

“Often, when I was Bishop of Buenos Aires, I would visit rest homes and realise how rarely those people received visits. Some had not seen their family members for many months,” he wrote.

“There are many reasons for this loneliness: in many places, above all in the poorer countries, the elderly find themselves alone because their children are forced to emigrate.

“I think too of the many situations of conflict. How many of the elderly are left alone because men – youths and adults – have been called to battle, and women, above all women with small children, have left the country in order to ensure safety for their children.

“In cities and villages devastated by war, many elderly people are left alone; they are the only signs of life in areas where abandonment and death seem to reign supreme.”

Pope Francis also spoke of the tendency for many women and men to seek personal fulfilment in a life as independent as possible and detached from other people.

“Group memberships are in crisis and individualism is celebrated: the passage from ‘us’ to ‘me’ is one of the most evident signs of our times,” he continued.

“Solitude and abandonment have become recurrent elements in today’s social landscape. They have multiple roots. In some cases, they are the result of calculated exclusion, a sort of deplorable ‘social conspiracy’ in others, tragically, a matter of an individual’s personal decision.

“In still other cases, the elderly submit to this reality, pretending that it is their free choice.

“On this Fourth World Day devoted to them, let us show our tender love for the grandparents and the elderly members of our families.

“Let us spend time with those who are disheartened and no longer hope in the possibility of a different future. In place of the self-centred attitude that leads to loneliness and abandonment, let us instead show the open heart and the joyful face of men and women who have the courage to say ‘I will not abandon you’, and to set out on a different path.”

Pope Francis concluded his message by sending his blessings and prayers to “all of you, dear grandparents and elderly persons, and to all those who are close to you”.

“And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me.”

Resources for parishes are available at



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