In the Decemberfrom the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, Francis asks for prayers that the elderly generation is not forgotten.
The Holy Father underlines the key role they play in society as beacons of wisdom and experience. In what is perhaps a counterintuitive reflection, he warns in the video that a society that forgets about its elderly members no longer has a future — because it has lost its memory.
“Let us be concerned for the elderly, so that sustained by families and Christian communities, they may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations,” Pope Francis says. “Grandmothers and grandfathers are our strength and our wisdom.”
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Globally the elderly are one of the fastest growing populations. According to statistics from 2016, almost 8.5% of the population of the world was over age 65. Countries with the highest percentages of elderly people include Japan (27%), Italy (23%), Portugal and Finland (21%), and Bulgaria, Greece, Latvia, and Sweden (20%).
“When a society loses its memory, it is lost. It is torn from its roots,” the pope warns. “Grandparents are entrusted with a great responsibility: to transmit their life experience, their family history, the history of a community, of a people.”
The pope’s words are timely, especially during the Christmas season when so many of the elderly are confined to nursing homes and are unable to celebrate the holidays with their family. They are often forgotten and the holidays can be an especially difficult time for them.
Jesuit Father Frédéric Fornos, international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and its youth branch, the Eucharistic Youth Movement, noted how Pope Francis highlighted the importance of respect for the elderly in a homily at Santa Marta in November 2013. “The elderly give us history, they give us doctrine, they give us faith and they give us an inheritance. They are the ones that, like a good wine, have this strength within themselves to give us a noble inheritance,” the pope said on that occasion. “These words are an invitation,” Father Fornos reflected, “in this month of December, to approach our grandparents, the elderly, especially those around us, and receive from them our history, our roots, the wisdom of life.”
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The intentions are entrusted each month to the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and The Pope Video is produced by La Machi Communication for Good Causes with the support of the Society of Jesus, IndigoMusic, GettyImagesLatam and the collaboration of the Vatican Television Center. It also has Aleteia as a media partner. Since its launch in January of 2016, it has had more than 19 million views on its networks.
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