Pope tells young people to visit an elderly person before leaving for the WYD

Pope Francis calls on different generations to reach out to each other in his message for Grandparents' Day on 23 July, which comes just a few days before World Youth Day in Lisbon. The pontiff urges grandparents to accompany their grandchildren in their prayers. Youth are “the sign that God does not abandon his people”. Francis is expected to be discharged from the Gemelli Hospital tomorrow.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Vatican Press Office today released Pope Francis’s Message for the 3rd World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, on 23 July, titled “His mercy is from age to age” (Lk 1:50). A few days later, the Holy Father will travel to Lisbon for World Youth Day, on 1-6 August.

The pontiff took advantage of the proximity of the dates to focus his message on a topic dear to his heart, namely the alliance between young and old, like the one sealed in Mary's evangelical encounter with her elderly cousin Elizabeth. Such an alliance between young and old is not only theoretical, but is something that requires actual outreach by both.

“To you, the young who are preparing to meet in Lisbon or to celebrate World Youth Day in your own countries, I would ask: before you set out on your journey, visit your grandparents or an elderly person who lives alone! Their prayers will protect you and you will carry in your heart the blessing of that encounter.”

likewise, “I ask you, the elderly among us, to accompany by your prayers the young people about to celebrate World Youth Day. Those young people are God’s answer to your prayers, the fruits of all that you have sown, the sign that God does not abandon his people, but always rejuvenates them with the creativity of the Holy Spirit.”

By contrast, Francis explains that “Those who focus only on the here and now, on money and possessions, on ‘having it all now’, are blind to the way God works. His loving plan spans past, present and future; it embraces and connects the generations. It is greater than we are, yet includes each of us and calls us at every moment to keep pressing forward.

“For the young, this means being ready to break free from the fleeting present in which virtual reality can entrap us, preventing us from doing something productive. For the elderly, it means not dwelling on the loss of physical strength and thinking with regret about missed opportunities. Let us all look ahead! And allow ourselves to be shaped by God’s grace, which from generation to generation frees us from inertia and from dwelling on the past!”

In the meantime, Pope Francis is preparing to leave Rome’s Gemelli Hospital where he underwent abdominal surgery a week ago. So far, his clinical picture appears to be proceeding successfully, so that he might be discharged as early as tomorrow.

Today, he paid a second visit to the Gemelli’s Children Cancer Ward where he met young patients who in recent days showed their affection towards him through letters, drawings and messages.

"Pope Francis,” said Vatican Press Office director Matteo Bruni, “has directly touched the pain of these children, who carry on their shoulders every day, together with their mothers and fathers, the suffering of the Cross.”