2021.07.25 Santa Messa nella Giornata mondiale dei nonni e degli anziani

World Day for Grandparents: 'We need intergenerational fraternity'

As the Church prepares to celebrate the 3rd World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly on Sunday, Vittorio Scelzo of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life highlights the importance of forging new bonds between generations to build a more fraternal world.

 By Lisa Zengarini and Tiziana Campisi

Over 6,000 thousand people, mostly elderly accompanied by their families from across Italy, are expected to join Pope Francis on Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the 3rd World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.

Pope Francis established this Day in 2021 to help “treasure the spiritual and human wealth that has been handed down from generation to generation” and decided it would be celebrated in late July, either on or near the liturgical Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.  

World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly and WYD

The theme he chose this year is “His mercy is from age to age” (Luke 1:50) and brings Christians back to the joyful meeting between the young Mary and her elderly cousin Elizabeth recounted in the Gospel of Luke, underlining the relational interconnection between old and young. 

This theme is particularly well suited to the upcoming World Youth Day in Lisbon, from 1 to 6 August 2023, whose motto will be significantly “Mary arose and went with haste” drawn from the same passage of Luke’s Gospel of the Visitation.

Pope Francis has linked the two events this year to relaunch his call for a renewed encounter between young and old and for intergenerational solidarity.

This intergenerational dimension will be highlighted at the end of the Mass celebrated on Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica by five elderly people - representing the five continents - symbolically handing over the World Youth Day Pilgrim's Cross to five young people leaving for Lisbon, to signify the transmission of the faith from generation to generation.

Re-weaving a social fabric of fraternity

Speaking to Vatican News’ Tiziana Campisi about the event, Vittorio Scelzo, of the Office for the elderly, children and people with disabilities of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, explained that Pope Francis is inviting both young and old people to reflect on their relations in our frayed society, in which elderly people suffer loneliness and abandonment and young people, on the other hand, are more and more disorientated, especially since the pandemic.

“In Fratelli tutti”, he said “Pope Francis expressed the idea of a society, in which bonds of fraternity are strong. It is, therefore, necessary and important to forge new bonds between generations, which now seem to go each their own way. We can make young and old meet and re-weave a social fabric of fraternity.”

Young people and the dream of peace 

According to Mr. Scelzo, this encounter would be beneficial for both, especially in the present context threatened by a new war in Europe.

“We are the children of generations who have built peace and there is a need for young people today to bear witness to this dream of peace that the elderly have built and lived in Europe over the past 80 years.”

On the other hand, meeting the young would help the elderly to feel less lonely, he added.

Holy Spirit in the encounter between young and old

Referring to the themes of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly and WYD, Mr. Scelzo said Pope Francis’ choice of the Visitation episode for both the events is particularly significant.

“Through it, the Pope teaches us to see the presence of the Holy Spirit in the encounter between young and old,” he said.

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22 July 2023, 16:49