By Vatican News
In a Message released on 14 July the Canadian Bishops give voice to the most vulnerable of our society, who have suffered most throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
While the pandemic has been experienced in different ways according to individual circumstances, the bishops note that "it has also brought a new awareness of the limitations we face as a society and the challenges of the conditions of those who are vulnerable".
In particular, the bishops say, the pandemic has inflicted "particular hardship" on those in long-term institutional care, single-parent families, the unemployed, migrant farm workers, the homeless, indigenous communities, those who are imprisoned, and many who were already experiencing various illnesses of body and mind.
The bishops dedicate part of their message to the elderly, noting that Pope Francis’ warning against the implications of a “throwaway culture” in our society must be considered. We must not forget, they add, that "the undue suffering experienced by the elderly members of our communities because of loneliness, anxiety, depression, worry and abandonment of different kinds weighs heavily upon the collective conscience of both our country and Church".
"Perhaps we have also gained a new appreciation for the basic human rights of health, social security, essential work and employment, education, health and religion" say the bishops, adding that these all contribute to the authentic dignity of the human person and the "necessary fabric" that promotes the common good.
The bishops continue stressing that the inter-connectedness of our human experience during this pandemic has led to "several opportunities as well as threats and temptations" that must be looked at honestly and frequently. They explain that what emerged at the beginning of the pandemic were the conditions in long-term care facilities and similar institutions that were particularly disturbing, "as government and healthcare authorities began to acknowledge".
Most upsetting, the bishops stress, and what has come to light is "the admission that this situation already existed long before COVID-19 appeared on the horizon".
This is an important lesson, say the bishops, especially for the younger generations: that "well before COVID-19, the elderly and the disabled were frequently excluded or forgotten, not only by society in general, but in many cases by their faith communities and even by their loved ones".
The bishops conclude their message by saying, "as we slowly return to a more normal way of life, let us not forget the elderly among us who still have so much wisdom to impart, faith to share, stories to tell and joys to offer. Let us create space in our hearts, homes, families and communities to honour them and truly care for them in their weakness and their many needs. Let us welcome their unique giftedness in building a world which is more human, loving, generous, forgiving, and radiant with God’s grace".