The Pontifical Council for the Family is organizing a day dedicated to the elderly, during which Pope Francis will meet with them as sign of the important role they play in a society that lives longer.
“The day is based on the assumption that old age is not a shipwreck but a vocation,” Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said in a statement posted on the council’s website announcing the initiative.
Entitled “The Blessing of a Long Life,” the event will take place Sept. 28 in St. Peter’s Square. The square will open at 7:30 a.m. with the official celebration beginning at 9 a.m. The day will culminate with a Mass at 10:30 presided over by Pope Francis.
Archbishop Paglia spoke of the great richness that the elderly offer to society, stating that old age is a call whose meaning has yet to be fully explored.
“Thanks to God the years of life have accumulated – society permits this – but, on the other hand, on this issue, an adequate reflection has not yet been developed,” he said. “There is none, neither in politics nor economics, nor in culture.”
The archbishop said he hoped the event would draw attention to this period of life and the humanity of the elderly.
“It should be stressed that the elderly are not only the object of attention or care, but that they themselves also have a new perspective in life.”
“That's the point,” he observed. “Therefore, their advanced age needs to be rethought, and their commitment to the world and in the Church must be reconsidered.”
Even the Church has a responsibility to reconsider the role of the elderly beyond the traditional tasks of transmitting the faith and helping parents.
For example, Archbishop Paglia said, the elderly can play a vital role in areas such as “prayer – they have more time available – and transmitting the Gospel, thus, echoing Anna the prophetess.”
Finally, Archbishop Paglia explained that there are also “civil aspects” to advancing age, “with particular care to conceive the weakening of life not as a final tragedy but rather as a testimony of hope in the hereafter.”
More information regarding the day with the elderly can be found on the Pontifical Council for the Family’s website. Registration forms were made available as of July 1.