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Pope Francis to Host Grandparents and Grandchildren at Vatican

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This weekend, Pope Francis will engage in a heartfelt encounter with thousands of grandparents and their grandchildren from across Italy. Dubbed "A Caress and a Smile," this unique event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 27, in the spacious Paul VI Hall. It promises to be a day where age is not just a number but a celebrated symbol of wisdom.

Photo credit: Johnny Cohen

Photo credit: Johnny Cohen


By Catholic Online (California Network)
4/22/2024 (4 weeks ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Vatican gathering, Pope Francis, elderly celebration, intergenerational bond, cultural change, demographic challenges

About 6,000 individuals have been invited. These attendees span generations. The convergence of such diverse age groups at this event underscores a profound narrative about the integral role of the elderly in society, a theme that is close to the heart of Pope Francis. The pontiff, often described by his admirers as "the grandfather of the world," has consistently shown a deep affection and respect for older people. His teachings often focus on valuing the later years of life as a meaningful and spiritually rich phase.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, during a press conference, shed light on the unique demographic structure of Italy, which boasts the second-highest elderly population globally. He remarked on the historical significance of our times where four generations can coexist. Paglia emphasized that old age should be celebrated as a "beautiful time" and a period ripe for a pivotal transformation in one's personal and social life.

The event is set against the backdrop of Italy's "demographic winter," a term that highlights the challenges of an aging population amid declining birth rates. Yet, in this scenario, Paglia sees a silver lining -- the undeniable bond between grandparents and grandchildren. He passionately spoke about the mutual reliance of these two groups, describing their relationship as one of "particular harmony."

The day's schedule begins early, with reflections on the virtues and challenges of growing older, setting a contemplative tone. Pope Francis is expected to arrive later in the morning to listen to personal testimonies from participants, including a 91-year-old grandmother, illustrating the profound and personal impact of age.

The choice of speakers and the thematic focus of the event underscore a broader mission articulated by Pope Francis: to reframe the perception of old age as a period of life rich with potential and integral to the human family. This gathering is not just a celebration but a statement, a call to recognize and integrate the wisdom of our elders into the fabric of everyday life.

This meeting precedes the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, another initiative by Pope Francis, which will be celebrated on July 28 this year, further highlighting the importance of senior citizens in our communities and churches.

As the event approaches, excitement and anticipation fill the air, not only for those attending but for all who believe in the strength of intergenerational relationships and the timeless wisdom they bring to our lives.

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