06 March 2021
Elderly

Fragile Lives, Precious Lives

Gabriella Gambino gives a talk at a COMECE seminar on The elderly and the future of Europe
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On 1 March, Professor Gabriella Gambino, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, took part in a webinar on the subject of “The Elderly and the Future of Europe”. It was held on an online platform by the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) and the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) to reflect on the implications of the pandemic on elderly people. So often they are very vulnerable in our society, yet they are active participants and are a source of hope for the younger generations. The occasion for this webinar was the recent publication of the joint document The Elderly and the Future of Europe which deals with the role of grandparents and older people in the context of the pandemic and demographic change on the old continent.

“Life is a gift, always, even when we become more frail”; “an ageing society not only brings challenges, but also opportunities for development”, Gambino stressed in her speech delivered in English. Participants in the webinar included Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, President of Comece.

“In Europe we must act in a more cohesive and inclusive way and make decisions that facilitate intergenerational solidarity, because without it there can be no real development”, concluded the Undersecretary, while emphasising that “our individualistic and utilitarian culture that prevents us from valuing old age is the same culture that does not allow us to value unborn life”. The crux of the matter, from a cultural and social point of view, lies in the close relationship that exists between the ageing of the population and the demographic winter, as also emphasised by Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti. From this perspective, it is essential to rethink the way in which interventions in favour of motherhood are set up, since reducing it to a self-referential decision makes it increasingly difficult for women to welcome life with confidence and courage.

To conclude, she presented the image of coal and diamonds, elements that are chemically identical but have a very different molecular structure: the former stifles light, the latter reflects it. Hence the invitation to be like diamonds “to reflect and enhance the sense of what is happening to us and illuminate the decisions of those who are called upon to take action”.