Vatican dicastery launches ‘send a hug’ campaign for elderly isolated by pandemic

Dicastery graphic A detail from a graphic promoting the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life campaign. | Vatican Media.

The Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life launched a new campaign Monday urging young people to "send a hug" to elderly people isolated by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a press statement dated July 27, the dicastery said it was inspired to launch the campaign, called "The elderly are your grandparents," by Pope Francis' comments after Sunday's Angelus.

"In the memory of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus, I would like to invite young people to make a gesture of tenderness towards the elderly, especially the most lonely ones in homes and residences, those who have not seen their loved ones for many months," Pope Francis said after the Angelus prayer July 26.

"Dear young people, each of these elderly people are your grandparents. Do not leave them alone. … They are your roots," he added.

Pope Francis encouraged youngsters to use the "inventiveness of love" to "send a hug" to an elderly person in their community by making a phone or video call, sending a card, or visiting where safety measures permit it.

The Vatican dicastery said that it was inviting young people all over the world "to do something that shows kindness and affection for older people who may feel lonely."

"In recent months many episcopal conferences, associations and individuals have been using 'the inventiveness of love' to find ways to bring the ecclesial community closer to the elderly who are lonely," it said in the press statement.

"We have received news of contacts being made via telephone, internet and social networks, and even of serenades to the residents of retirement homes. Young people have been doing this to help alleviate the loneliness being felt by many people who are obliged by the pandemic to stay at home or remain confined in residential care facilities."

It continued: "In this phase of the campaign, in order to respect the health regulations in force in different countries, our invitation to young people is to reach out to the loneliest elderly people in their neighborhood or parish and send them a hug, according to the request of the pope, by means of a phone call, a video call or by sending an image." 

"Wherever possible -- or whenever the health emergency will allow it -- we invite young people to make the embrace even more concrete by visiting elderly in person."

The dicastery urged campaign participants to use the social media hashtag #sendyourhug and said it would promote "the most significant posts" on its Twitter account, @laityfamilylife.

Quoting from the pope's preface to the 2018 book "Sharing the Wisdom of Time," the dicastery said: "We hope that this campaign can help to achieve a dream expressed by Pope Francis when he wrote 'Here is what I would like: a world that experiences a renewed embrace between young and old.'"

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