Pope Francis has announced a new “world day of grandparents and the elderly” to recognised often-forgotten older generations.
Speaking after the Angelus yesterday, he praised the “precious voice” and “wisdom” of the elderly, and said it was important that children are allowed to meet and learn from their grandparents.
He timed his announcement two days before tomorrow's feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, when Simeon and Anna, both elderly, recognised Jesus as the Messiah.
“The Holy Spirit still arouses thoughts and words of wisdom in the elderly today: their voice is precious because it sings the praises of God and guards the roots of peoples,” Pope Francis said. “They remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between generations, to transmit to young people an experience of life and faith.
“Grandparents are often forgotten and we forget this wealth of preserving the roots and transmitting.”
The new celebration of older people will be held throughout the Church every year on the fourth Sunday of July, near the feast of Saints Joachim and Anna, the “grandparents” of Jesus.
Pope Francis said: “It is important that grandparents meet their grandchildren and that grandchildren meet with grandparents, because – as the prophet Joel says – grandparents will dream in front of grandchildren, they will have illusions [great desires], and young people, taking strength from their grandparents, will go on, prophesy.”
He also referred to yesterday's “world day of leprosy patients”, begun more than sixty years ago by Raoul Follereau and carried out especially by the associations inspired by his humanitarian work.
“I express my closeness to those who suffer from this disease, and I encourage missionaries, health workers and volunteers committed to their service. The pandemic has confirmed how necessary it is to protect the right to health for the most vulnerable people: I hope that the leaders of the nations will join efforts to treat those suffering from Hansen's disease and for their social inclusion,” he said.