Pope: Love shared between elderly and young makes society wiser

By Devin Watkins, 12 May 2024
Pope Francis greets an elderly lady and her granddaughter during an event, “The Caress and the Smile,” hosted by The Great Age Foundation in the Paul VI Hall in April 2024. Image: Vatican Media


Pope Francis meets with participants in an event promoted by the Great Age Foundation, and says intergenerational love has the power to transform society and impart wisdom.

The Great Age Foundation held an event on Saturday 27 April in the Paul VI Hall, entitled “The Caress and the Smile,” which brought together over 6,000 grandparents and grandchildren to highlight the rights of the elderly and society’s duty to them.

Pope Francis greeted participants and thanked Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which helped promote the event.

In his address, the Pope highlighted the importance of young people and the elderly spending time together, saying their shared love makes the world better, richer, and wiser.

Excluding no one

The Holy Father focused first on how intergenerational love makes us better people.

He told a story he had heard from his own grandmother about a young boy whose grandfather humiliated him when he ate sloppily at table.

After the grandfather made his grandson sit at a table by himself, the boy began to tinker with a hammer and nails. His father then asked him what he was doing, and the boy replied: “I’m building a table for you, for when you grow old and have to eat alone!”

Pope Francis said the lesson he learned from his grandmother was never to exclude anyone, just as Jesus never excludes or humiliates anyone.

“It is only by being together with love, not excluding anyone, that we become better, more human!” said the Pope.

Overcoming divisions and loneliness

He went on note that love between the elderly and the young makes our societies richer, especially since they risk an impoverished humanity because everyone specializes in a few fields without sharing and thinking of others.

There is only one world, said the Pope, adding that it is made up of many generations.

“Different generations and peoples, if harmonized, can reveal the wonderful splendor of humanity and creation, like the facets of a great diamond,” he said.

Pope Francis urged everyone not to heed voices that call for us to “think for yourself” or “you don’t need anyone.”

Such an attitude, he said, leads to loneliness and a throwaway culture in which the elderly are left alone to spend their last years away from their loved ones.

“Let us build this world together,” he said, “not only by developing assistance programs but by cultivating various projects where the passing years are not seen as a loss that diminishes someone, but as a good that grows and enriches everyone: and as such are appreciated and not feared.”

Refreshing society

Pope Francis then recalled that love shared between generations makes us wiser, like the elderly Simeon and Anna who were the only people who recognized Jesus as the Son of God when His parents brought Him to the Temple.

Society, said the Pope, forgets things quickly when grandparents are ignored.

“Listen to [grandparents], especially when they teach you with their love and their testimony to cultivate the most important affections, which are not obtained by force, do not appear with success, but fill life,” he said.

Grandparents, added the Pope, can also teach younger generations about the horrors of war and the importance of seeking peace.

“When you, grandparents and grandchildren, elderly and young, are together, when you see and hear each other often, when you take care of each other,” concluded Pope Francis, “your love is a breath of fresh air that refreshes the world and society and makes us all stronger, beyond family ties.”

With thanks to Vatican News and Devin Watkins, where this article originally appeared.


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