- In his general audience Pope Francis condemned modern society for silently disposing of the elderly, saying that a civilization which views them only as burdensome is ‘perverse’ and ill.
“It is a mortal sin to discard our elderly…The elderly are not aliens. We are them – in a short or in a long while we are inevitably them, even though we choose not to think about it,” the Pope told pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his March 4 general audience address.
The Church has utmost concern for the old, weak and sick people of the society which is evident form the priceless service its thousands of religious men and women in India and around the world. As this culture is slowly becoming rampant in society, their service is much appreciated in this year of Consecrated Life.
The Catholic religious congregations run hundreds of old age homes, respite homes, palliative care centres and institutions for weak and marginalised in which the religious render dedicated service. They consider the members as their parents and siblings.
Pope Francis, himself a consecrated religious from the Jesuit order, in his address recounted the story of how he visited a home for the elderly while still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, recalling how during the visit he stopped in front of one of the residents and asked her how her children were doing.
When the woman gave a vague response, Francis asked if they visited often. When she said “yes, always,” the Pope said he questioned further, asking when they last came to see her.
The woman, he recalled, replied that the last time her children came was “At Christmas. It was August…Eight months without a visit from her children – this is a mortal sin.”
Pope Francis’ reflection on the elderly was part of his continued catechesis on the family, which he began last fall as a preparation for this October’s Synod of Bishops on the family. This week he focused on the role of grandparents.
“The disposable culture considers the elderly as a burden, a weight, since not only do they not produce, but they also constitute a burden and, although not openly, they are discarded,” he told pilgrims.
Pope Francis encouraged attendees to remember well that “where the elderly are not respected, the youth have no future,” and called for greater solidarity between generations.
He then asked for those present to remember all the elderly who are alone, sick, in need and dependent on others, praying that they would “feel the tenderness of the Father through the kindness and gentleness of all.”
Photo: Pope Francis celebrates Mass inside Manila’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Jan. 16, 2015. Credit-Alan Holdren/CNA