The Elderly

The frailty of the elderly is a ‘magisterium’ capable of teaching without the need for words

Pope Francis with grandparents, the elderly and grandchildren: ‘The Caress and the Smile’
Foto: Vatican Media

Foto: Vatican Media





On Saturday 27 April, the Paul IV Hall filled with almost 6000 people who participated in a special Audience - ‘The Caress and the Smile’ - that was organised by the Great Age Foundation, with patronage from the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life. The elderly, grandparents and grandchildren in the Audience met Pope Francis who addressed them “as a ‘grandfather’, with the desire to share the ever-youthful faith that unites all generations”.

During the meeting - which was attended by the Secretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, Dr Gleison De Paula Souza - the Pontiff urged that the elderly not be left alone, describing them as treasure to be valued by the next generations.

“The elderly must not be left by themselves, they must live within the family, in the community, with the affection of everyone” Pope Francis said, emphasising the importance of “cultivating different projects of existence, in which the passing years are not considered a loss that diminishes someone, but an asset that grows and enriches everyone”.

The Pope invited grandchildren to listen to their grandparents and embrace their “memory of a world” from which valuable lessons can be learnt. Pope Francis reflected on how he learnt about the horrors of war from his grandfather. “They can see far … and have many things to teach us,” Pope Francis said.

Addressing young people, the Holy Father urged them not to marginalise the elderly because “marginalisation … corrupts all seasons of life”. Being together and caring for one another generates love, “a breath of clean air that refreshes the world and society”.

29 April 2024