12/16/2019, 18.26
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Pope: old age is "the season of gift and the season of dialogue"

Today's meeting with Italy’s National Association of Elderly Workers gave Pope Francis an opportunity to stress the "gift" that comes from seniors getting more involved “in voluntary work and associations”. Also, "dialogue" is important to pass on the experiences of a family, community, and people to young people.

 

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met today with representatives of Italy’s National Association of Elderly Workers. This provided the pontiff with an opportunity to stress that old age is “the season of gift and the season of dialogue”. In his view, seniors, at a social level, should be seen for what they truly are, a resource and a richness, not a burden. The pontiff added that getting seniors more involved “in voluntary work and associations" is a gift. Likewise, "dialogue" is important to pass on the experiences of a family, community, and people to young people.

“Healthy seniors can offer a few hours of their time to look after people in need, thus enriching themselves as well,” explained Francis. “Volunteering is an experience that is good both for those who receive it and those who provide it. In fact, helping others can counter the feeling of loneliness, improve cognitive performance and increase mental well-being. In other words, volunteering promotes what is termed ‘active aging’, improving the quality of life once important aspects in one's identity wither away with retirement, like parenthood and work.”

“The biggest challenge for society over the next few years is promoting within the community and ever more effectively the human resources seniors possess. It is a question of setting in motion, in given places, networks of solidarity that rely on seniors as active players and not only as recipients of welfare-like actions.”

With respect to old age as a season of dialogue, the Pope noted that "the future of a people necessarily presupposes dialogue and an exchange between the elderly and the young to build a more just, beautiful, supportive, and Christian society. Young people are the strength in the life of a people and seniors reinvigorate that strength through memories and wisdom. Old age is a time of grace, in which the Lord renews his call to us: he calls us to preserve and pass on the faith; he calls us to pray, especially to intercede; he calls us to be close to those in need. The elderly, grandparents have a unique and special ability to grasp the most problematic situations. And when they pray for these situations, their prayer is strong, it's powerful!”

"Unfortunately, many times young people are discarded, because they have no work, and the elderly are discarded under the pretence of maintaining a ‘balanced’ economic system, at the centre of which there is no human person, only money. We are all called to counter this poisonous culture of waste. We are called to tenaciously build a different society, more welcoming, human, inclusive, one that does not need to discard those who are weak in body and mind; indeed, a society that moves in 'step' precisely with such people."

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