“We must feel a responsibility to visit the elderly who are often alone, and present them to the Lord with our prayers. Jesus himself will teach us how to love them.”
The pope then underlined a consistent theme of his reflections on old age: that society’s “throwaway culture” seeks to “cancel out” the elderly.
“Yes, it does not kill them, but socially it eliminates them, as if they were a burden to carry: it is better to conceal them,” he said.
“This is a betrayal of our own humanity, this is the worst thing, this is choosing life according to utility, according to young and not with life as it is, with the wisdom of the elderly, with the limits of the elderly.”
He went on: “The elderly have much to give us: there is the wisdom of life. There is much to teach us: this is why we must teach children that their grandparents are to be cared for and visited.”
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“The dialogue between young people and grandparents, children and grandparents, is fundamental for society, it is fundamental for the Church, it is fundamental for the health of life.”
“Where there is no dialogue between the young and the old, something is lacking and a generation grows up without past, that is, without roots.”
Pope Francis said that the healed woman offered the disciples a lesson by rising from her sickbed and serving them.
“Even in old age one can, or rather one must, serve the community,” he commented.
“It is good for the elderly to cultivate the responsibility to serve, overcoming the temptation to stand aside. The Lord does not reject them; on the contrary, he restores to them the strength to serve.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis said: “Please, let us make sure that the elderly, grandparents, are close to children, to the young, to hand down this memory of life, to pass on this experience of life, this wisdom of life.”
“To the extent to which we ensure that the young and the old are connected, to this extent there will be more hope for the future of our society.”
A summary of the pope’s catechesis was then read out in seven languages.
Addressing English-speaking Catholics, he said: “I greet the English-speaking visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially the various pilgrimage groups from the United States of America.
“Upon you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you.”
Before offering his final remarks, the pope urged pilgrims to pray for the victims of war in Ukraine.
“And please, let us not forget the martyred people of Ukraine at war. Let us not get used to living as if the war is a distant thing,” he said.
“May our remembrance, our affection, our prayer, and our help always be close to this people who are suffering so much and who are experiencing a true martyrdom.”
Addressing Italian pilgrims at the end of the audience, he noted that Catholics around the world are preparing to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.
“Tomorrow we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, which in Italy is transferred to next Sunday,” he said.
“May the Eucharist, mystery of love, be for all of you a source of grace and light that illuminates the paths of life, support amid difficulties, sublime comfort in the suffering of each day.”