In an address this morning to members of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, who are celebrating their annual plenary session, the Pope reaffirmed the primary role of the family in fostering ‘inter-generational solidarity’, the Academy’s current theme of study.
“The family, as the origin and foundation of human society also has an irreplaceable role in the building of inter-generational solidarity. There is no age when one ceases to be a father or mother, a son or daughter," said the Pope.
The Pope noted that the theme was closely related to the theme of globalization, and “the pressures of a consumer society which cause families to divert attention from the home to the workplace or a variety of social activities.”
“In earlier times”, said the Pope, “the care of grown children for their parents was taken for granted.” The solidarity of marriage encompassed the couple and the children and this "in turn led to solidarity between grown children and their aging parents."
Citing the significant weakening of this familial bond of solidarity, the Pope drew attention to the plight of elderly people today “many of whom have insufficient resources or pensions, suffer from physical maladies, no longer feel useful or are ashamed that they require special care, and all too many simply feel abandoned."
The “weakening of the marriage bond” also hurts children, he warned, who “at times are perceived, even before birth as an obstacle to the personal fulfillment of their parents, or are seen as one object to be chosen among others."
The Holy Father said he hoped that the academy’s work on this issue "will lead to a clearer appreciation of the need for a solidarity which crosses generations and unites individuals and groups in mutual assistance and enrichment."
The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, founded by John Paul II in 1994, celebrates it’s 10th anniversary this year, and is headed by Harvard law professor, Mary Ann Glendon.