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Pope Francis greets seniors during the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly last year (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis has urged families around the world to remain close to grandparents and senior family members, imploring people to spend time with older relatives who may be facing “solitude and abandonment”. Source: CNA.

The Vatican released the message ahead of the fourth World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, which takes place on July 28. The Pope first announced the annual observance in 2021.

Francis noted that the Bible contains numerous examples of the “fear of abandonment, particularly in old age and in times of pain”. The theme for this year’s observance is “Do Not Cast Me Off in My Old Age”, a reference to Psalm 71. 

“All too often, loneliness is the bleak companion of our lives as elderly persons and grandparents,” the Pope said. 

He noted that when serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires he would visit rest homes and realise how rarely people received visits.

“Some had not seen their family members for many months,” he said.

War often leads to high rates of elderly abandonment, the Pope said. “How many of the elderly are left alone because men – youths and adults – have been called to battle, and women, above all women with small children, have left the country in order to ensure safety for their children.”

Another prejudice against the old, the Pope argued, is the claim that they “rob the young of their future.”

“This is a distorted perception of reality. It assumes that the survival of the elderly puts that of the young at risk, that to favour the young it is necessary to neglect or even suppress the elderly.”

Citing the biblical example of Ruth remaining by Naomi’s side in the latter’s old age, the Holy Father urged families: “Let us show our tender love for the grandparents and the elderly members of our families.” 


Pope Francis: Do not abandon grandparents and elderly; remain close to them (By Daniel Payne, CNA)


Pope: The elderly are the ‘firm foundation’ of the future (Vatican News)