Every so often on my weekend radio show, “Vatican Insider,” I offer a Special Report in what is normally the interview segment, in particular when events assume an importance that can overshadow the content of an otherwise great interview. Much of the background information I researched for the Special I did last weekend about upcoming events in the Vatican, led to the blog that I posted yesterday, “Four Days in the Vatican: An August Surprise? If you want to listen to the full Special Report – which has even more info than I posted on my blog – click here: EWTN Audio & Radio Library Archive – Search & Listen Now | EWTN

Another thing I could have mentioned in my list of signs that could point to a resignation were all of Pope Francis’ recent general audience catecheses on the value and beauty of old age.

There had been 14 catecheses on this theme when, at the final weekly audience on June 22 (the 15th catechesi)s – and just before his July break and a pause in general audiences – the Pope announced the end of these catecheses.

However, he did resume talking about old age this month, with his 16th catechesis on this topic on August 10, then August 17 and now today, the 18th and final catechesis. The recent catecheses have been about old age and death and life after death, as you will see below in my summary of the general audience.

If old age is a diamond, even a diamond in the rough, the Holy Father looked at all the myriad, mesmerizing facets of this diamond, of this period of life, including himself in many of his reflections, often saying “we elderly.”

I could ask: Have these catecheses been an underpinning for Francis’ life and legacy, a solid foundation built to support, even strengthen, that legacy? We will all be there some day – old age – or we are now or we are on our way. Has Francis spent all these months giving the elderly a positive way to frame old age, a way to balance joys and sufferings without losing one’s balance?

Is he looking back at life and yet looking to the future at the same time?

He tweeted today: As we approach the end of our lives, the essentials of life that we hold most dear become definitively clear to us. Our whole life appears like a seed that will have to be buried so that its flower and its fruit can be born.


Pope Francis, at today’s general audience in the Paul VI Hall, began his remarks by noting that, “We recently celebrated the Assumption into heaven of the Mother of Jesus. This mystery illuminates the fulfilment of the grace that shaped Mary’s destiny, and it also illuminates our destination, doesn’t it? The destination is heaven. With this image of the Virgin assumed into heaven, I would like to conclude the cycle of catecheses on old age.”

He emphasized that, “Our Lady’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven is intimately bound to the resurrection of Jesus her Son and to its promise of our own bodily resurrection at the end of time. … In the divine act of reuniting Mary with the Risen Christ, the normal bodily corruption of human death …is not simply transcended, the bodily assumption of the life of God is anticipated. … This is our destiny: to rise again.”

“Just as, in the moment we come out of our mother’s womb, we are still ourselves,” said the Pope, “the same human being that was in the womb; so, after death, we are born to heaven, to God’s space, and we are still ourselves, who walked on this earth.”

Francis explained that, “When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God, he describes it as a wedding feast; as a party, that is, like a party, a party with friends awaits us; as the work that makes the house perfect, and the surprise that makes the harvest richer than the sowing.” (Photos by EWTN-CNA’s Pablo Esparza)

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The Holy Father, addressing “my dear contemporaries,” pointed out that “in our old age, the importance of the many ‘details’ of which life is made — a caress, a smile, a gesture, an appreciated effort, an unexpected surprise, a hospitable cheerfulness, a faithful bond — becomes more acute. The essentials of life, which we hold most dear as we approach our farewell, become definitively clear to us. …. And the life of the risen body will be a hundred and a thousand times more alive than we have tasted it on this earth.”

Francis then told the story of how “the Risen Lord, not by chance, while waiting for the Apostles by the lake, roasts some fish and then offers it to them. This gesture of caring love gives us a glimpse of what awaits us as we cross to the other shore. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, especially you elderly, the best of life is yet to come. ‘But we are old, what more is yet to come?’ The best, because the best of life is yet to come. Let us hope, let us hope for this fullness of life that awaits us all, when the Lord calls us.”

Pope Francis recognized that there is “a little bit of fear, because I don’t know what this passage means, and passing through that door causes a little fear – but there is always the hand of the Lord that carries us forward, and beyond the door there is the party.”

So, concluded Pope Francis, “Let us be attentive, dear old people, contemporaries, let us be attentive. He is expecting us. Just one passage, and then the party!”



“Humanity needs to rediscover the importance of allowing the old and the young to interact.”

Pope Francis was true to those words of his audience catechesis when he welcomed an adorable little boy, perhaps 6 years old, who strolled with great self-assurance up to the stage during the end of the audience greetings in Italian. (minute 53 in the video). (CNA photos)

The young man stood near the Pope, serene and unmoving for a full 5 minutes, brought back to his family only at the very end of the audience after the papal blessing. A Vatican staff member did at one point bring a rosary to Pope Francis to give to the little fellow, who looked at the Holy Father the entire time with a seriously attentive expression.

The Pope spoke to him briefly and then resumed his catechesis, caressing the boy’s head or patting his shoulder.

There were a number of interesting moments at the audience, not least of which occurred when a Swiss Guard fainted as the catechesis was being delivered in Portuguese. There was a little break in the catechesis as he was being attended to and then a moment of general applause as he was helped to his feet. (minute 40:29).

Although last week he announced that he was ending his series of 16 talks on old age and the elderly, Pope Francis today resumed the theme of old age at today’s general audience with a twist, asking the faithful “to rediscover the importance of allowing the old and the young to interact and share experience and enthusiasm.” Pope at Audience: ‘Alliance between youth and elderly will save humanity’ – Vatican News


At the Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis reflected on the value of old age, focusing on Daniel’s prophetic dream about the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:9-10).

The Pope said the vision—known as a theophany—highlights the connection between old age and youth.

Everything about the man in the vision is full of “vigour, strength, nobility, beauty, and charm”. Yet, noted the Pope, the man is described with hair as white as snow, like an old man. “The snow-white hair is an ancient symbol of a very long time, of time immemorial, of an eternal existence,” he said.

Beauty of a white-bearded God

Pope Francis stressed that there is no need to strip our faith of symbols when trying to explain the Bible to others.

“The image of God, who watches over everything with snow-white hair, is not a silly symbol. It is a biblical image; it is noble, and even tender.”

God, added the Pope, is both ancient and new, since He is eternity.

In the same way, humanity needs to rediscover the importance of allowing the old and the young to interact and share experience and enthusiasm.

“Old age,” said the Holy Father, “must bear witness to children that they are a blessing” by embracing the “mystery of our destination in life”.

Elderly bless life as it comes and goes

The Pope said the elderly have a unique way of bearing witness in such a way that is “credible to children.”

“It is irresistible when an old person blesses life as it comes their way, laying aside any resentment for life as it goes away. The witness of the elderly unites the generations of life, the same with the dimensions of time: past, present and future.”

At the same time, said Pope Francis, it is painful and even harmful to separate the ages of life and pit the old and the young against each other as if they were competing for the same resources.

Passing on wisdom of dying: Pope Francis concluded his catechesis by encouraging parents to allow their children to interact with the elderly, even as they near death’s door, so as to pass on “the wisdom of dying.” “The alliance between the elderly and children will save the human family,” he said.

“Death is certainly a difficult passage from life—but it is also one that concludes the time of uncertainty and throws away the clock. For the beautiful part of life, which has no more deadlines, begins precisely then.” (source: Vatican news)



Given the continuing very hot temperatures in Rome, this week’s Wednesday general audience was held inside the air-conditioned Paul VI Hall in the presence of thousands of faithful. (vatican photo)

Pope Francis announced that the day’s catechesis on old age would be the final one of 16 talks on this topic that he began in February. There were no general audiences in July, a quasi-vacation period and reduced work schedule for the Pope at the Santa Marta residence. When he resumed the weekly meeting last week, he spoke of his just-completed trip to Canada.

“Today” said the Pope, “we enter into the moving intimacy of Jesus’ farewell to his followers, amply recounted in the Gospel of John. The parting discourse begins with words of consolation and promise: ‘Let not your hearts be troubled’. ‘When I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also’. They are beautiful, these words of the Lord.

He continued: “Shortly beforehand, Jesus had said to Peter, ‘You shall follow afterward’, reminding him of the passage through the fragility of his faith. The time of life that remains to the disciples will be, inevitably, a passage through the fragility of witness and through the challenges of brotherhood. But it will also be a passage through the exciting blessings of faith.”

The Holy Father explained that “old age is the fitting time for the moving and joyful witness of expectation. The elderly man and woman are waiting, waiting for an encounter. In old age, the works of faith, which bring us and others closer to the Kingdom of God, are by now beyond the power of the energy, words, and impulses of youth and maturity. But precisely in this way they make the promise of the true destination of life even more transparent. And what is the true destination of life? A place at the table with God, in the world of God.

“It would be interesting to see whether in the local Churches there is any specific reference intended to revitalize this special ministry of awaiting the Lord – it is a ministry, the ministry of awaiting the Lord – encouraging individual charisms and community qualities of the elderly person.”

“Our life is not made to be wrapped up in itself, in an imaginary earthly perfection,” said Francis. “It is destined to go beyond, through the passage of death – because death is a passage. Indeed, our stable place, our destination is not here, it is beside the Lord, where he dwells forever.”

The pontiff then emphasized that “the conceit of stopping time – of wanting eternal youth, unlimited well-being, absolute power – is not only impossible, it is delusional.”

“Old age,” he went on, “knows definitively, by now, the meaning of time and the limitations of the place in which we live our initiation. This is why old age is wise: the elderly are wise for this reason. This is why it is credible when it invites us to rejoice in the passing of time: it is not a threat, it is a promise. Old age is noble, it does not need to beautify itself to show its nobility. Perhaps the disguise comes when nobility is lacking.

“Old age is credible when it invites one to rejoice in the passing of time: but time passes . … Old age is the phase in life most suited to spreading the joyful news that life is the initiation to a final fulfilment. The elderly are a promise, a witness of promise. And the best is yet to come. The best is yet to come: it is like the message of elderly believers, the best is yet to come. May God grant us all an old age capable of this! Thank you.”

You may recall that Pope Francis began this series of catecheses on February 23, when he said: “We have finished the catecheses on Saint Joseph. Today we begin a catechetical journey that seeks inspiration in the Word of God on the meaning and value of old age. Let us reflect on old age. For some decades now, this stage of life has concerned a veritable “new people”, who are the elderly. There have never been so many of us in human history. The risk of being discarded is even more frequent: never as many as now, never as much risk of being discarded as now.”


Pope Francis conveyed his thoughts and prayers for the victims and families of the massive fire in Cuba that killed at least one person. Another 14 people are currently missing, and five others remain in critical condition.

“I want to express my closeness to those affected by the tragedy caused by the explosions of the Matanzas oil base in Cuba. Let us ask Mary our Queen of Heaven to watch over the victims and their families.”

Described as the worst fire in Cuba’s history, the blaze began on Friday night after lightning struck a fuel storage tank at the Matanzas oil depot, causing a massive explosion. The fire spread to a second tank on Saturday, triggering further explosions that caused the fire to spread.

Over 40% of the Cuban island’s main fuel storage facility was destroyed, and massive blackouts were reported. (source: vaticannews)


These might be my favorite words from today’s general audience on old age:

Pope Francis: “Technology is fascinated by this myth in every way. While awaiting the defeat of death, we can keep the body alive with medicine and cosmetics that slow down, hide, erase old age. Naturally, well-being is one thing, the myth that feeds it is another. There is no denying, however, that the confusion between the two is creating a certain mental confusion in us. To confuse well-being with feeding the myth of eternal youth. Everything is done to always have this youth – so much make-up, so many surgical interventions to appear young. The words of a wise Italian actress, [Anna] Magnani, come to mind, when they told her she had to remove her wrinkles and she said, “No, don’t touch them! It took so many years to have them – don’t touch them!” This is what wrinkles are: a sign of experience, a sign of life, a sign of maturity, a sign of having made a journey. Do not touch them to become young, that your face might look young. What matters is the entire personality; it’s the heart that matters, and the heart remains with the youth of good wine – the more it ages the better it is.”

Bless you, Holy Father!

I’m not worried about wrinkles because I don’t have any – but I do have laugh lines!


Continuing his catechesis on the value of the elderly and old age at the weekly general audience, Pope Francis reflected on the Biblical figure of Nicodemus, and said the elderly are messengers of tenderness, wisdom and love.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov (vaticannews)

The tenderness of the elderly shows us the tenderness of God. Pope Francis stressed this during his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square, as he continued his series of catecheses “on the meaning and value of old age in the light of God’s Word.”

He reflected this week on the Old Testament figure of Nicodemus.

The Pope said he wished to emphasize “the tenderness of the elderly” and grandparents, highlighting how God is equally tender with us.

“Watch how a grandfather or a grandmother look at their grandchildren, how they embrace their grandchildren – that tenderness, free of any human distress, that has conquered the trials of life and is able to give love freely, the loving nearness of one person to others.”

This tenderness, he said, opens the door toward understanding God’s tenderness.

“This is what God is like, He knows how to embrace. And old age helps us understand this aspect of God who is tenderness.”

Born anew, not living forever

The Pope considered the words spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus: “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born anew” (Jn 3:3) by water and the Holy Spirit. This spiritual rebirth, he suggested, does not negate or detract from the value of our earthly existence, but “points it towards its ultimate fulfilment in the eternal life and joy of heaven.”

Our age, with its frantic pursuit of the myth of eternal youth, the Holy Father underscored, needs to relearn this truth and to see every age of life as preparation for the eternal happiness for which we were created.

Jesus had told Nicodemus: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life.”

Witness to God’s presence in our midst

The elderly, through their faith, wisdom and experience, can bear convincing witness to the presence of God’s kingdom in our midst and the authentic meaning of our earthly existence as a foretaste of that true “eternal youth” which awaits us in the new creation inaugurated by Christ and his Holy Spirit.

The Holy Father highlighted the beauty of old age.

“Old age moves ahead toward its destination, towards God’s heaven,” he said.

“Old age, therefore, is a special time of separating the future from the illusion of a biological and robotic survival, especially because it opens us to the tenderness of God’s creative and generative womb.”

Pope Francis concluded by praying, “May the Spirit grant us the re-opening of this spiritual – and cultural – mission of old age that reconciles us with the birth from above.”

“When we think of old age like this, we can say – why has this throw-away culture decided to throw out the elderly, considering them useless? The elderly are the messengers of the future, the elderly are the messengers of tenderness, the elderly are the messengers of the wisdom of lived experience. Let us move forward and watch the elderly.”




Before starting the catechesis at today’s general audience, Pope Francis was driven around a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square for just over 10 minutes, seated in a swivel chair in the white, open jeep. Remaining seated due to his painful knee, for which he is being treated, he waved nonstop to the pilgrims and occasionally received an infant or toddler whom he hugged and kissed. (vatican photos)

Arriving at the raised platform, the Holy Father began the catechesis, saying, “In our continuing catechesis on the meaning and value of old age in the light of God’s word, we now consider the example of Eleazar, as found in the Second Book of Maccabees.

“At a time of violent persecution, the Jewish people were being forced under pain of death to eat meat sacrificed to idols. As an elderly and respected member of the community, Eleazar was told that if he merely pretended to do so, his life would be spared. Rather than betray his faith in God, Eleazar preferred death. His witness to the truth and dignity of the faith, even at the cost of his life, thus served as a powerful example to the young. Eleazar showed that faith is not an abstract idea or a set of rules to be followed, but a commitment of one’s entire being to God.”

“The central point is this,” Francis explained. “Dishonoring the faith in old age, in order to gain a handful of days, cannot be compared with the legacy it must leave to the young, for entire generations to come. But well-done Eleazar! An old man who has lived in the coherence of his faith for a whole lifetime, and who now adapts himself to feigning repudiation of it, condemns the new generation to thinking that the whole faith has been a sham, an outer covering that can be abandoned, imagining that it can be preserved interiorly!”

Pope Francis stressed that “the effect of such an external trivialization would be devastating for the inner life of young people. But the consistency of this man who considers the young! He considers his future legacy, he thinks of his people.”

Francis emphasized that, “in our own day, the witness of the elderly to a clear and consistent practice of the faith can counter the powerful cultural forces that would dismiss the faith as outmoded or irrelevant. By showing the dignity of a life of faith expressed in community worship and acts of charity, the elderly can help to strengthen the fabric of society and offer the young a model of integrity and fidelity valid for every age.”

Pope Francis, who is 85, said, “the practice of faith is not the symbol of our weakness, no, but rather the sign of its strength. We are no longer youngsters. We were not kidding around when we set out on the Lord’s path!”

“Dear elderly brothers and sisters, not to say old,” the Pope concluded, “we are in the same group. Please look at the young people: they are watching us. …. Young people are watching us and our consistency can open up a beautiful path of life for them. Hypocrisy, on the other hand, will do so much harm. Let us pray for one another. May God bless all of us old people. Thank you.”


Marc Murphy, a celebrated chef and son of some good friends of mine, is currently on the Polish-Ukraine border and helping to prepare meals for 2,500 plus refugees a day. He was interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. His Dad sent me this link:

At 5 pm today, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin will celebrate a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for peace in Ukraine. Members of the diplomatic corps will be in attendance.

Yesterday, Pope Francis announced the March 25th Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in ceremonies in Rome and Fatima in both Russian and Ukrainian on his Twitter account @pontifex.

I was just about to post this column when I saw the news about the phone call between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. I have been following Patriarch Kirill in recent weeks as he has basically supported Russia in its war on Ukraine, creating no few difficulties within the Orthodox community (see below for story).


Today’s general audience took place in two different moments, the first in St. Peter’s Basilica when Pope Francis addressed students from La Zolla Vocational school in Milan, and then in the over-flowing Paul VI Hall where the Pope addressed about 7,500 faithful.

In addressing the students in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis prayed for the thousands of Ukrainian children who, he said, “are living under the bombs, have nothing to eat, are forced to flee their homes, leaving everything behind. …Lord Jesus, look at these children, bless them and protect them. They are the victims of the arrogance of the adults.”

He then asked the students of the La Zolla Institute to turn their thoughts “to the many boys, girls, who are facing war and who are suffering. … You have a future ahead, the security of growing up in a peaceful society, and instead these little ones, these very little ones, have to flee from the bombs, with all that cold out there.”


Having arrived in the Paul VI Hall from St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Father began his weekly meeting with the faithful by noting, “in our continuing catechesis on the meaning and value of old age, viewed in the light of God’s word, we now consider the vital role of the elderly in handing on to new generations life’s true and sustaining values.”

“In the very first pages of the Bible,” Francis explained, “God entrusts to the elderly Noah the task of restoring the goodness of his creation, which had become corrupted by the spread of violence and wickedness. Jesus himself speaks of the ‘days of Noah’ in warning us of the need for conversion in view of the imminent coming of God’s Kingdom, which brings mankind definitive salvation and spiritual renewal.”

The Pope underscored that, “In every age, as in the days of Noah, we can be tempted to accept sin and corruption as normal, to avert our eyes from the unjust suffering of the poor and the destruction of our natural environment. In our own day, these are the fruits of a materialistic, self-centred and spiritually empty culture of waste. The elderly, like Noah, can warn us of this danger and remind us of our God-given call to be guardians and stewards of his creation.

“May Noah’s example and prayers inspire our elderly to appreciate this, their special charism, and help to build a new ‘ark’ of welcome, care and hope, for the future of our world and the dawn of the new creation.”

The Holy Father then closed the general audience with a special prayer composed by Archbishop Domenico Battaglia of Naples, making a few additions of his own:

Before reciting the prayer, he invited Christians to “ask God for forgiveness and to grant peace” amid the pain of the war in Ukraine. (Vatican photo)

Here is an unofficial translation of the Pope’s prayer:

Forgive us for war, O Lord.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners!
Lord Jesus, born in the shadows of bombs falling on Kyiv, have mercy on us!
Lord Jesus, who died in a mother’s arms in a bunker in Kharkiv, have mercy on us!
Lord Jesus, a 20-year-old sent to the frontlines, have mercy on us!
Lord Jesus, who still beholds armed hands in the shadow of your Cross, have mercy on us!

Forgive us, O Lord.

Forgive us, if we are not satisfied with the nails with which we crucified Your hands, as we continue to slate our thirst with the blood of those mauled by weapons.
Forgive us, if these hands which You created to tend have been transformed into instruments of death.
Forgive us, O Lord, if we continue to kill our brother;

Forgive us, if we continue like Cain to pick up the stones of our fields to kill Abel.
Forgive us, if we continue to justify our cruelty with our labors, if we legitimize the brutality of our actions with our pain.
Forgive us for war, O Lord. Forgive us for war, O Lord.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, we implore You! Hold fast the hand of Cain!
Illumine our consciences;
May our will not be done;
Abandon us not to our own actions!

Stop us, O Lord, stop us!
And when you have held back the hand of Cain, care also for him. He is our brother.
O Lord, put a halt to the violence!
Stop us, O Lord!


Acistampa, an EWTN/CNA news agency, reported on the call. This is my translation of the Italian:

Today Pope Francis and the Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia Kirill had a conversation via video conference. The news was released by the Moscow Patriarchate through an official note.  Joining the Pope and Kirill, were Metropolitan Hilarion** and Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

According to the note from the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill “greeted the Pope cordially, expressing satisfaction about the possibility of organizing a conversation. A detailed discussion of the Ukrainian situation took place. Particular attention was paid to the humanitarian aspects of the current crisis and to the actions of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church to overcome its consequences. The parties underlined the exceptional importance of the ongoing negotiation process, expressing their hope for a just peace to be reached as soon as possible. Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill also discussed some current issues of bilateral cooperation.”

The Pope and Kirill met in Cuba in February 2016, the first ever meeting between a Pope and Patriarch of Moscow.

(JFL: **Chairman of the Department of External Affairs)





Pope Francis started a new series of catecheses today at the weekly general audience, announcing that he will be focussing “on the meaning and value of old age, viewed in the light of God’s word.”

As if to underline that theme, he met four people in the prima fila – front row section – whose combined ages equalled 366 years! Francis spoke to them, listened to their stories, smiled with them and blessed them. He even told them they have a lot of work still to do!

Lucrezia Di Pinto, 88 and Pantaleo Mario Galantino, 91 celebrated 62 years of marriage yesterday, February 22, feast of the chair of Peter. They told the Pope that it was Pope John XXIII who blessed them before they left on their honeymoon and now, 62 years later, another Pope blesses them!

The Holy Father also met Sister Rina del Lago, 92, who has spent 67 of her years as a nun. She is still active in a Roman parish and school.

And the Pope shook hands with Fr. Tommaso, 95, a priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate for 70 years and still active!

Francis himself is a youthful 85!

The Pope was given a beautiful gift today by a couple from Milan. The husband is undergoing treatment for cancer in a Milan hospital and the couple knows how important it is for families to be together in such a critical time. They gave the pope use of an apartment for the parents of infants and children being treated at Rome’s Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital. This hospital is under the auspices of the Holy See. Bambino Gesu always takes care to make arrangements for families who live outside of Rome but have to spend time in the Eternal City when their child is hospitalized.


This morning in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis announced, “today begins a new series of weekly catecheses on the meaning and value of old age, viewed in the light of God’s word.

“There have never been so many of us in human history,” he noted, including himself. “The risk of being discarded is even more frequent: never have so many as now, been at risk of being discarded. The elderly are often seen as ‘a burden’. In the dramatic first phase of the pandemic it was they who paid the highest price. They were already the weakest and most neglected group: we did not look at them too much when they were alive, we did not even see them die!”

Francis explained that, “We all live in a present where children, young people, adults and the elderly coexist. But the proportion has changed: longevity has become mass and, in large parts of the world, childhood is distributed in small doses. We talked about the demographic winter as well. An imbalance that has many consequences.”

“The exaltation of youth as the only age worthy of embodying the human ideal, coupled with contempt for old age as frailty, decay, disability, has been the dominant image of twentieth-century totalitarianism. Have we forgotten this?”

“In short,” the Pope added, “for an age that is now a decisive part of the community space and extends to a third of the entire life span, there are – at times – care plans, but not projects of existence. Care plans, yes; but not plans to live them to the full. And this is a void of thought, imagination and creativity.”

The Holy Father stressed that, “Youth is beautiful, but eternal youth is a very dangerous illusion. Being old is just as important – and beautiful – is equally important as being young. Let us remember this. The alliance between generations, which restores all ages of life to the human, is our lost gift and we have to get it back.”

“Old age is a gift for all stages of life. It is a gift of maturity, of wisdom. The Word of God will help us discern the meaning and value of old age; may the Holy Spirit grant us too the dreams and visions we need.”

“The important thing,” said the Pope in concluding, “is not only that the elderly occupy the place of wisdom they have, of lived history in society, but also that there be a conversation, that they talk to the young. The young must talk to the elderly, and the elderly to the young. And this bridge will be the transmission of wisdom in humanity. … Everything beautiful that a society has is related to the roots of the elderly. For this reason, in these catecheses, I would like the figure of the elderly person to come up, to understand well that the elderly person is not a waste material: he/she is a blessing for society. Thank you.”


At the end of today’s general audience, Pope Francis said, “My heart aches greatly at the worsening situation in Ukraine. Despite the diplomatic efforts of the last few weeks, increasingly alarming scenarios are opening up. Like me, many people all over the world are feeling anguish and concern. Once again the peace of all is threatened by partisan interests. I would like to appeal to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war; who is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be brothers and not enemies. I pray that all the parties involved refrain from any action that would cause even more suffering to the people, destabilising coexistence between nations and bringing international law into disrepute.

“And now I would like to appeal to everyone, believers and non-believers alike. Jesus taught us that the diabolical senselessness of violence is answered with God’s weapons, with prayer and fasting. I invite everyone to make next March 2, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace. I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.”