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Pope Francis: I’ve said this already and I’m going to keep saying it …

Pope Francis (R) speaks to an elderly couple during a special Jubilee audienceat the Vatican, on July 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS

Have you responded yet to this invitation the pope keeps repeating?

Pope Francis today took up again a message he’s really trying to pound into our heads: Young people and the elderly need each other.

It’s not just the elderly, with their increasing dependence, who need a helping hand from the young and able-bodied. In fact, the pope keeps repeating, it’s the young people who most need the elderly.

The Holy Father said this today when he had an off-the-cuff question and answer session in Spanish with members of the Shalom Community.

This is what he said:

The service that is asked of you (the oldest and the youngest) is dialogue: dialogue among yourselves, to pass on the torch, to pass down the heritage, to pass on the charism, to pass on the interior life that you have. But I want to go further: One of the challenges that our world today is giving up is dialogue between youth and elderly, and in this, I base myself on your own testimony.

[You might say,] “Yes, Father, we’ve heard you say this already.” And you’re going to hear me say it a few more times: Dialogue between the elderly and young people.

Youth need to hear the elderly, and the elderly need to hear youth. “What am I going to do?” a young person might ask. “What am I going to do? speak with an old person? How boring this is going to be.”

I’ve had the experience of seeing this many times in my other diocese, of going with a group of young people, for example, to a care home or a retirement home, to play the guitar for the elderly. And yes, they play the guitar, but afterward, the dialogue begins. It’s spontaneous, it just happens, it comes about on its own — and the young people don’t want to leave — because wisdom springs from the elderly, but a wisdom that touches their hearts, and urges them to keep on trying. The elderly, for you young people, are not to be kept away in a closet; the elderly are not to have hidden away. The elderly are waiting for a young person to go to them and get them to speak, get them to dream.

And you young people need to receive those dreams from these men and women, these aspirations that bring them to life. …

[You might answer,] “Yes, I speak with my mom and dad.” No. Your mom and dad aren’t elderly. Speak with your grandpa and your grandma, with the next generation up. They have wisdom, and moreover, they need you to knock on their hearts so that they give you this wisdom.

That would be the recommendation that I give you. Give it a go. Give this dialogue a try. This dialogue is a promise for your future; this dialogue is going to help you keep on going.


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