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Pope's Lenten message urges respect for elderly

Pope John Paul II has used the words of Moses to express his theme for Lent 2005, which recognises that science and medicine are lengthening the human lifespan but not necessarily the value that is placed upon older people living in the community.

The Pope used the words of Moses that invited the chosen people "to embrace the Covenant with Yahweh in the country of Moab 'that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord, your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him'."

The Holy Father said: "It is upon this theme that I would like to ask you to reflect during this Lent, in order to deepen the awareness of the role that the elderly are called to play in society and in the Church, and thus to prepare your hearts for the loving welcome that should always be reserved for them."

He said developments in science and medicine demand a more specific attention to the world of so-called 'old' age, in order to help its members to live their full potential by placing them at the service of the entire community. The care of the elderly, above all when they pass through difficult moments, must be of great concern to all the faithful, especially in the ecclesial communities of Western societies, where the problem is particularly present."

"Human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages. The Commandment, 'You shall not kill', always requires respecting and promoting human life, from its beginning to its natural end."

It is a command that applies even in the presence of illness and when physical weakness reduces the person's ability to be self-reliant."

Pope calls for increased respect of elderly in Lenten message (Catholic News Agency 27/1/05)

Text of message

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28 Jan 2005