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World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly puts spotlight on ‘loneliness,’ ‘throw-away culture’

Pope Francis has unveiled the theme for the 4th World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, set to take place on Sunday, July 28, urging Catholics worldwide to reflect on the invaluable heritage and wisdom bestowed by their grandparents and the elderly. 

The chosen theme for 2024, as released by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, is drawn from Psalm 71:9: “Do not cast me off in my old age.”

In a press statement, the dicastery emphasized the intention of drawing attention to the unfortunate reality that many elderly individuals find themselves grappling with loneliness, often becoming victims of a throw-away culture.

In his upcoming message, Pope Francis is expected to delve into the plea of an elderly person depicted in Psalm 71, reflecting on their journey with God. 

The observance aims to celebrate the unique charisms of grandparents and the elderly, emphasizing their significant contributions to the life of the Church. 

It also seeks to encourage ecclesial communities worldwide to foster intergenerational bonds and combat the pervasive issue of loneliness, recognizing the biblical wisdom that “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the dicastery, emphasized the crucial role of families and ecclesial communities in promoting a culture of encounter, providing spaces for sharing, listening, and offering support and affection. 

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In a Vatican News report, the prelate underscored the transformative power of the Gospel’s love in these practical expressions of care. 

“Faced with this reality,” he said, “families and the ecclesial community are called 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.”

Cardinal Farrell encouraged Christians to turn to God the Father for comfort amid this condition. He emphasized that the observance dedicated to grandparents and the elderly calls for a departure from a throwaway culture, urging believers to demonstrate “tenderness and affectionate attention” to the most vulnerable members of their communities.

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