"The Church has in the elderly an army of witnesses of Faith".

"Old age, richness of fruits and blessings" is the name of the document elaborated by an interdisciplinary group, coordinated by the Episcopal Subcommission for the Family and the Defense of Life, and which is intended to be an impulse for the work and pastoral care of the Church with the elderly.

Maria José Atienza-May 24, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes

The president of the Episcopal Subcommission for the Family and the Defense of Life, Bishop José Mazuelos, and the president of the Ascending Life Movement, Álvaro Medina, were in charge of presenting the document "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Elderly: Old Age: Richness of Fruits and Blessings".

Bishop Mazuelos wanted to highlight the special sensitivity that Pope Francis is showing to the elderly, manifested in initiatives such as "the creation of the World Day of the Elderly, or the catechesis on the elderly that he has been giving for some months now".

Pandemic and old age

One of the things highlighted at the press conference is how the Covid pandemic has brought to light the our society's shortcomings with respect to our elders. We are faced with the problem of seniors who could not go to buy medicine, who could not withdraw money from the bank or who live completely alone.

As Bishop Mazuelos pointed out: "We live in a culture of discarding, in which the dignity of human beings at the beginning and end of life is called into question. For this reason, the Church has to raise awareness in the face of this discarding. A society that does not take into account its elders is sick. It is arrogant and thinks that everything was born with them. It forgets its roots, and the tree without roots withers."

Mazuelos has also underlined the interdisciplinary nature of the team that has elaborated this document: "the EEC decided, some years ago, to make a transversal family pastoral. This document shows a wealth of people who are in this reality of the elderly: people from CONFER, health pastoral, Lares Foundation, Vida Ascendente, Caritas and the media".

For his part, the president of the Ascending Life movement, Alvaro Medina, of the Diocese of Getafe, wanted to point out that "there is a kind of refusal to identify oneself as 'older'. Who is older? Older people are those who, for various reasons, their lives change: their children become emancipated, their work ends and they find themselves on a new path in life that they have to face in a different way... This situation often produces loneliness and we have to take care of this loneliness with great care".

An army of testimonials

Far from complaining, for Medina, it is important to highlight the role of pastoral agent of those older people who still have multiple possibilities of collaboration in the parishes and also of those who are more limited.

The president of Vida Ascendente himself pointed out that one of the obligations of the elderly is "to transmit the Faith. Older people, even if it is because we have lived more years, have had many occasions to have experiences of Faith, those evidences that strengthen the Faith and we have the obligation to transmit them. The elderly as a pastoral agent is an imperative need. But also, the elder needs to recognize himself and to be recognized, not to receive applause but to be known. The Church has an army of witnesses of Faith in the elderly and, as the Pope says, we need more good witnesses and less speeches".

The document

"Old age, a wealth of fruits and blessings."is a simple document, as they wanted to emphasize in the presentation. "It is presented almost as a narrative" and offers a starting point to consolidate the work that, from multiple ecclesial realities, is being developed in the world of the elderly and to implement, where necessary, this pastoral service to the elderly. Not only through reflections on the challenges of the elderly, the value of old age or pastoral care for the elderly and done by the elderly, but also through examples and experiences carried out in Spain by the Church for the elderly.

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