‘Loneliness’ at heart of Pope’s theme for 4th Grandparents Day

On Sunday 28th July Catholics around the world will be invited to take time to reflect on the great heritage and wisdom passed on by their grandparents and the elderly.

In preparation for the 4th World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life released the theme for the 2024 iteration.

The Pope has chosen the theme: “Do not cast me off in my old age” (cf. Psalm 71:9).

According to a press release from the Dicastery, it is meant “to call attention to the fact that, sadly, loneliness is the bitter lot in life of many elderly persons, so often the victims of the throw-away culture.”

In his message, Pope Francis will draw on the verse from Psalm 71 that depicts the plea of an elderly person who reflects on the story of their friendship with God.

“By cherishing the charisms of grandparents and the elderly, and the contribution they make to the life of the Church, the World Day seeks to support the efforts of every ecclesial community to forge bonds between the generations and to combat loneliness, in the awareness that – as Scripture states – “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18),” according to the press release.

Loneliness and tenderness of Christian community

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, expressed his gratitude to the Pope for highlighting the loneliness endured by many elderly people.

“Faced with this reality,” he said, “families and the ecclesial community are called to be at the forefront in promoting a culture of encounter, to create spaces for sharing, listening, to offer support and affection: thus, the love of Gospel becomes concrete.”

Loneliness, admitted the Cardinal Prefect, is an unavoidable condition of human life, as well as an invitation to turn to God the Father for comfort.

As Christians, he said, the World Day dedicated to grandparents and the elderly calls us to put aside our throwaway culture and show “tenderness and affectionate attention” to the most fragile members of our communities.

Prayerful preparation for Jubilee

The 2024 World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly takes place in the Year of Prayer, which Pope Francis has called to help Catholics prepare for the 2025 Jubilee.

The Pope established the World Day in 2021 to take place on the fourth Sunday of July, near the liturgical feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.