World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly highlights ‘loneliness,’ ‘throwaway culture’

Pope Francis elderly couple aging old people Jan. 11, 2023 Pope Francis greets an elderly couple at his general audience on Jan. 11, 2023. | Credit: Vatican Media

The theme for the fourth World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which will be celebrated on July 28, has been chosen by Pope Francis. 

According to the Holy See Press Office, this year’s theme is “Do Not Cast Me Off in My Old Age,” which comes from Psalm 71. The Feb. 15 press release noted that in choosing this verse it was the Holy Father’s desire “to call attention to the fact that, sadly, loneliness is the bitter lot in life of many elderly persons, so often the victims of the throwaway culture.”

The press release said that “by cherishing the charisms of grandparents and the elderly, and the contribution they make to the life of the Church, the World Day seeks to support the efforts of every ecclesial community to forge bonds between the generations and to combat loneliness.”

It also noted that the day will also be an opportunity for the whole Church to prepare for the upcoming jubilee year of 2025. 

Reflecting on the theme chosen by the pope, Cardinal Kevin Farrell — the prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life — stressed the Holy Father’s call to bring awareness to the isolation that many elderly people face, saying that it is “a widespread reality” and that “many elderly people [are] often victims of the throwaway culture and considered a burden to society.” 

In the Feb. 15 press release issued by the dicastery, the cardinal also noted that while “loneliness, certainly, is also an unavoidable condition of human existence,” it is incumbent upon “families and the ecclesial community … to be at the forefront in promoting a culture of encounter, to create spaces for sharing, listening, to offer support and affection: thus the love of Gospel becomes concrete.” 

The cardinal also noted that the celebration of the fourth World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in July will be an opportunity for intergenerational dialogue, which will help build “the broader ‘we’ of ecclesial communion.”  

“It is precisely this familiarity, rooted in the love of God, that overcomes every form of throwaway culture and loneliness.”

The press release also noted that in the coming months a pastoral kit will be made available on the family dicastery’s website to help individuals and communities prepare for the event.

Pope Francis established the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in 2021. It is held on the fourth Sunday of July, which falls near the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.

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