Pope Francis: Elderly have a role in God’s saving plan

Participants at a conference on the pastoral care of the elderly were received in audience by Pope Francis on Friday. In his address, the Holy Father invites the Church to “change her pastoral attitudes in order to respond to the presence of so many elderly people in families and communities”.

By Christopher Wells

At an audience for participants in a conference on pastoral care of the elderly, Pope Francis said old-age is “a precious treasure that takes shape in the journey of every man and woman’s life, whatever their origins, background, or economic or social conditions.” He said, “Life is a gift, and when it is long it is a privilege, for oneself and for others. Always.” He called on the Church to care for the elderly, going to them with “a smile on your face and the Gospel in your hands”.

He noted that the world is facing a significant demographic change, with fewer young people and a large increase in the number of elderly. He said that issues facing the elderly – including social disorientation, and societal attitudes of indifference and rejection, are a call to the Church and to society “to serious reflection in order to learn to grasp and appreciate the value of old age”.