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“Do not cast me off”: Theme for Grandparents’ Day from Psalm 71

Pope Francis blesses faithful at the end of his weekly general audience

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - I.Media - published on 02/19/24

Loneliness is afflicting too many of the elderly, laments cardinal who will oversee World Day of Grandparents and Elderly, which this year is July 28.

Pope Francis drew from Psalm 71 for the theme of the 4th World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, to be celebrated on July 28, 2024. The Vatican published on February 15 the theme chosen by the Holy Father: “Do not cast me off in my old age” (cf. Psalm 71:9).

In presenting this theme, the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, which coordinates this day, encouraged Catholics to “fight against the loneliness” experienced by so many senior citizens in society.

The World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly was established in 2021 by Pope Francis. Set for the fourth Sunday in July (near the July 26 feast of Jesus’ grandparents, Joachim and Anna), this initiative intends to honor the elderly, who are often “forgotten” but who are “a wealth,” explained the Pontiff at the time.

Each year, the Pope publishes a message for this celebration, as he does for other World Days, such as the World Day of the Sick.

“Loneliness is an unfortunately widespread reality that affects many older people, who often fall victim to a culture of rejection and are seen as a burden on society,” stressed the prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, in a statement. He encourages Catholic communities to “create environments conducive to sharing, listening, support and affection.”

The Irish-born cardinal also called for “the charisms of grandparents and the elderly and their contribution to the life of the Church” to be valued.

One of the Pope’s big concerns

The inclusion of the elderly is a theme dear to Pope Francis, who regularly denounces the abandonment of the elderly in retirement homes.

In April 2023, the Pontiff spoke out against “a hidden and progressive euthanasia” which consists in depriving an elderly person of the treatment he or she needs, all for the purpose of reducing health care costs.

“Today, we ‘cancel’ the lives of grandparents” because we consider that they “are old, that they are of no use,” he lamented on his return from his trip to Marseille last September.

Last year, for this world day, the Pontiff celebrated Mass with some 8,000 elderly people in St. Peter’s Basilica. Next year, the program for the Great Jubilee of 2025 in Rome includes a special pilgrimage for families and the elderly, from May 30 to June 1.

Psalm 71:

Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
    do not forsake me when my strength is spent.

ElderlyFamilyMental HealthPope Francis
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