While not a new message from Pope Francis, the pontiff did give a shout-out to the elderly in his speech to Congress today. He said:
"I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land." He added that he also wanted to "dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people."
It's not the first time Pope Francis has talked about tapping into the resources of the elderly and ensuring that old age isn't a time of deprivation and loss. Last May, when addressing the Rome meeting of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Holy Father said the Bible has a strong warning for those who neglect or mistreat their parents.
"The biblical commandment that requires us to honor our parents, understood broadly, reminds us of the honor we must show to all elderly people," the Pope said.
The Pope said that “to honor” can be interpreted to mean as having "the duty to have extreme respect and to take care of those who, because of their physical or social condition, could be left to die, or ‘made to die’.”
He called on those involved in palliative care to maintain this respect and to remember that “all medical knowledge is truly science, in its most noble sense” and goodness can never be achieved when care acts contrary to human life and dignity. “It is this capacity for service to the life and dignity of the sick, even when they are old, that is the measure of the true progress of medicine, and of all society,” said Pope Francis.
In a weekly general audience last spring, the Holy Father spoke directly to older people. He said that being old is not a time for rest, but a chance for a new mission in the world. The Pope said that in today’s frenetic society, young people and families need the older generation’s prayers, wisdom and gifts to give them the encouragement, hope and faith they often lack, reported the Catholic Herald.
“We, older people, can remind ambitious young people that a life without love is barren. We can tell fearful young people that worrying about the future can be overcome. We can teach young people who are in love with themselves too much that there is more joy in giving than receiving,” he said to those gathered in St Peter’s Square.
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