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Pope calls for an elderly-youth alliance in new book

CPP / Polaris/East News

"Sharing the Wisdom of Time" has the pope in dialogue with 5 people, including Martin Scorcese

The “dreams of grandparents” will allow “young people to have hope,” said Pope Francis in a book dedicated to older people available in Italian starting this week. The book from Loyola Press, titled “Sharing the Wisdom of Time”, was presented in the framework of the intergenerational evening held on October 23 during the synod on youth at the Vatican.

Unfortunately, says the pontiff in the book’s preface, “our society has deprived grandparents of their voice.” They have lost their “opportunity to recount their experience, their stories, their lives.”

In this way, we “increase” in them “the anguish” of feeling abandoned. This then results in the ugly ”cynicism of an elder person who has lost the sense of the meaning of his testimony,” and who therefore “depreciates the young and always complains.” His wisdom is no longer transmitted but becomes a “sterile nostalgia,” the pope laments.

On the contrary, “how beautiful” is the encouragement that an older person can offer a young person in search of meaning in his life.

“That is the grandparents’ mission,” says the head of the Catholic Church.

Consequently, “I feel that this is what the Lord wants me to say: that there is an alliance between the young and the old.”

“We need the elderly to be dreamers” to “inspire” the youngest so that they have hope for the future.

The elderly, insists the Successor of Peter, are the “reserve of wisdom” of our societies, and the attention paid to them is what “distinguishes a civilization.” This is why we must know how to “awaken the civil sense of gratitude, appreciation, and hospitality,” which allows an older person to feel fully integrated into his community.

The Pope responds to Martin Scorcese

The book is divided into five chapters — work, combat, love, death, hope — in which elderly people from all walks of life tell their stories, to which the pontiff responds. Among them are the testimonies of an American veteran of the Second World War, a Syrian grandmother, a former professional Spanish footballer, and an African craftsman, and that of renowned American director Martin Scorcese.

“We must let ourselves be met by life and by God,” the pope responds to Scorcese. “I do not like the sentence ‘everyone is born with his destiny already written’; it’s not true.”

“Failures can not stop us if we have fire in our heart,” he continues. In this perspective, the “success of life is not glory, but patience. It’s so necessary, and the elderly have a lot.”

Published in English by Loyola Press, this book was made with the collaboration of Father Antonio Spadaro, director of the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica. 

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