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Pope urges "effective inclusion" of elderly in society

Society must uphold the dignity of older people, and must resist the temptation to be guided by economic criteria in determining aged care policies, according to Pope John Paul II.

The Holy Father was expressing his thoughts in a message to participants of last week's Second World Assembly on Ageing, which took place in Madrid.

"A society shows itself just to the extent that it meets the needs of all its members," he said. "How can we guarantee the endurance of a society which is ageing, and safeguard the social security of older persons and their quality of life?"

"In the first place, the elderly must be considered in their dignity as persons, which does not diminish with the passing years nor with physical and mental deterioration. Experience shows that when this positive view breaks down older people are quickly marginalised and condemned to a loneliness which is a kind of social death."

The Pope suggested that the "effective inclusion" of the elderly in society, with their experience, knowledge and wisdom entails "helping to solve the problems connected with ageing". He said formation programs are necessary to educate people about ageing in order that they may adapt to changes in life-style and work.

United Nations Second World Assembly on Ageing
Cardinal says older persons are "guardians of the collective memory" (11/4/02)


15 Apr 2002