The goal of the conference was to promote a renewed concern for the pastoral care of the elderly in every ecclesial community. Yet during the conference itself, nobody imagined that the talks and reflections would have proven to be so timely and essential just a few short weeks later when the “lockdowns” in many countries began. The elderly today are the first and most numerous victims of the pandemic, of loneliness, and of isolation. Yet at the same time, the elderly are also those without whom the newer generations would have no roots or identity. Because of this, the Church has a cultural and educational imperative to work towards correcting the demeaning representation of old age which predominates in many societies today, in ways that involve all generations in the process of renewal.
In fact, with this e-book, the Dicastery intends to make this toolkit available to everyone, as an instrument for the development of a true “pastoral ministry that reaches out,” one which is able to involve the elderly as active participants in this ecclesial responsibility. As the Church, we are called to form networks of collaboration and solidarity between dioceses, parishes, lay ecclesial communities, associations, and families which put concern for the elderly at the center of our commitment. The presentations, and above all the conclusions, presented in these texts contain valuable information that we hope will aid in the concrete implementation of this mission.
Today is the International Day of the Elderly; we must stand beside the elderly and be mindful of the value of the richness of their many years of life. With this as our hope, we present this volume as a gift to the Church. Let us remember, as Pope Francis has said, that the elderly are our memory and our future!
This multilingual e-book is also available on the LEV website. Additionally, translations in Spanish and French will be available in pdf format on the website of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.