(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the participants in a gathering of senior citizens and their caregivers on Saturday, in the context of Italy’s national Grandparents’ Day celebrations. Grandparents’ Day in Italy – the Festa dei nonni – is marked each year on October 2nd, with events continuing throughout the month.
The gathering was organized by the Italian ANLA association, founded in 1949 as an advocacy group for seniors in the employ of major industrial companies. The association has grown and expanded to include members of every age throughout the country: seniors, their family members, and their professional caregivers.
Click below to hear our report:
In remarks prepared for the occasion, Pope Francis said, “The Church regards the elderly with affection, gratitude, and high esteem. They are an essential part of the Christian community and of society: in particular they represent the roots and the memory of a people.”
The Holy Father went on to call on political leaders and social actors to recommit to the protection and full appreciation of senior citizens.
“There is still a much that institutions and social structures can do to help older people to make the most of their abilities, to facilitate their active participation, particularly to ensure that their personal dignity is always respected and appreciated,” said Pope Francis. “To do this,” he added, “we must counter the harmful throw-away culture that marginalizes the elderly, considering them unproductive.”
Before concluding with his Apostolic Blessing upon all the participants and their works, Pope Francis said, “Those responsible for the public weal, cultural, educational and religious leaders, as well as all people of good will, are called upon to commit to building a more and more welcoming and inclusive society. It is also important to promote the bond between generations. The future of a people requires the encounter between young and old: the young people are the vitality of a people “on the way” and the elderly reinforce this vitality with memory and wisdom.”