Pope Francis started of his weekly general audience on the popemobile, blessing crowds and making his way along St. Peter's Square, surrounded by cameras.
In his weekly catechesis he reflected on the need to respect and care for the elderly. Despite their physical limits, he said, they should not be forgotten or set aside.
"It's ugly to see the elderly being discarded. It's ugly and it's a sin.”
Quoting the Bible, he described the elderly as a storehouse of wisdom and not a burden. The Pope even shared a personal anecdote of his time back in Argentina, when he visited an elderly home.
"I asked a woman, 'Do your children visit you? She said, 'Yes, yes, they do.' When was the last time they came? I remember one woman in particular. She said, 'For Christmas.' We were in August! Eight months without a visit from her children. Eight months of being abandoned! This is a deadly sin. Understood?”
Using strong words, he said that a society that doesn't have room for its elders carries the virus of death. When families set aside the old, he added, it's often a reflection of one's own fears.
"We are accustomed to setting people aside. It's a way to remove our growing fears of weakness and vulnerability. But doing so only increases the anguish the elderly feel, for not being cared after and for being abandoned.”
Given that people are living longer and couples are having less children, caring for the elderly, he added, needs to be addressed by families and society.
He then reminded the youth to respect their elders, adding that one day, they too, will grow old.