Holy See urges promotion and protection of human rights of the elderly

18 April 2019
A file image of an elderly man and a helper at Mass for World Day of the Sick. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


Archbishop Bernadito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, on April 15 addressed a working group on the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons.

The Holy See is urging the promotion and protection of the rights of the elderly, saying they are the living memory of our people who can help everyone discover their roots and dignity.

“The promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons will be enhanced when they are advanced in the strength of youth, in the maturity of adulthood, in the vulnerability of illness, and in the weakness of the final moments of life,” said Archbishop Bernadito Auza, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York, on Monday.

He was speaking at a working group on measures to enhance the promotion and protection of the human rights of older persons.

Exclusion of the elderly

Warning with the words of Pope Francis that we have “normalised the exclusion of our elderly,” the Vatican diplomat said they are disproportionately impacted by the burdens of poverty, illness, disability, social isolation, violence, abandonment, abuse, and lack of access to such basic resources as adequate food and shelter, quality health care, reliable communication, nourishing companionship, and effective support in times of violence or disaster.

Respect for old age

To counter this trend, Arch. Auza suggested two areas of focus. Firstly, he called for “education, training, life-long learning and capacity building” to foster respect for the wisdom of age and the value of full participation that leaves no senior behind. He said the elderly are the “living memory of our people,” and for that reason they can help everyone to discover their roots and become more aware of their own dignity.”

Social security

The other area of focus is to ensure “social protection and social security” to the elderly which they are too often denied because they are not considered “productive” and “useful” anymore and hence are a burden to government and society.

This attitude is particularly pronounced in places where euthanasia and assisted suicide claim the lives of the elderly who are ill and vulnerable. The Holy See condemns, in the strongest possible terms, these practices and calls for the protection of older persons from such attacks.

Arch. Auza also called for redoubling efforts to promote human rights for all, saying it will help promote an intergenerational solidarity that does not separate generations from each other but binds them together.

With thanks to Vatican News and Robin Gomes, where this article originally appeared.


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