Pope Francis has decided to institute the Church-wide celebration of World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. Starting this year, it will be held on the fourth Sunday of July, close to the liturgical memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
The theme chosen by the Holy Father for this World Day is “I am with you always” (cf. Mt 28:20) which is a way of expressing the closeness of the Lord and the Church to every older person, especially in these challenging pandemic times.
Message of Pope Francis
The decision to hold a World Day for Grandparents and Older People has come at a time marked by a pandemic and by the suffering of our older generations in recent months in every part of the world. Reports of elderly people having to die alone, in isolation from their relatives, and then not even being given a funeral, have been a cause of deep pain to the society and especially to the Church.
To be unable to be close to those who suffer is at odds with a Christian’s calling to show compassion. This World Day is an opportunity to reaffirm that the Church can never remain distant from those who carry a cross.
Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, in a press conference presenting the First World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, pointed out that “this is the first fruits of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year, a gift to the whole Church that is destined to continue into the future. The pastoral care of the elderly is a priority that can no longer be postponed by any Christian community. In the encyclical Fratelli Tutti, the Holy Father reminds us that no one is saved alone. With this in mind, we must treasure the spiritual and human wealth that has been handed down from generation to generation”.