Pope Francis has always given special attention to the elderly, especially those who live alone and are victims of what he calls a throwaway culture.
'The elderly are often seen as a burden. In the dramatic first phase of the pandemic, it was they who paid the highest price. They were already the weakest and most neglected group. We did not notice them too much when they were alive. We did not even see them die.'
But the Pope does not lose sight of the unique ways in which the elderly, with their life experiences, can make the world a better place.
'What is our vocation today, at our age? To preserve our roots, to pass on the faith to the young and to care for the little ones. Never forget this.'
For Pope Francis, old age does not disqualify a person from living life to the fullest nor from living being a witness of the Christian faith.
'It makes no difference how old you are, whether you still work or not, whether you are alone or have a family, whether you became a grandmother or grandfather at a young age or later, whether you are still independent or need assistance. Because there is no retirement age from the work of proclaiming the Gospel and handing down traditions to your grandchildren.'
Intergenerational dialogue is another key part of the Pope's vision for the elderly.
'Today I wish to tell you that the elderly are also the present and the future of the Church. Yes, they are also the future of a Church that, together with the young, prophesies and dreams.'
The Pope even established World Day of the Elderly, which is celebrated every fourth Sunday of July. It's his way of reminding young and old that the elderly are an essential part of building, “in fraternity and social friendship, the world of tomorrow.”