Pope Francis has invited young people around the world to perform “gestures of tenderness” toward the elderly, as many are forced into isolation to observe Covid-19 health guidelines.
The Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life quickly answered that call and launched “The elderly are your grandparents” campaign. In a communiqué released on Monday 28 July, the Dicastery invited young people “to do something that shows kindness and affection for older people who may feel lonely.”
“The pandemic has hit the elderly particularly hard and it has disconnected the already weak links between generations,” reads the statement. “However, respecting social distancing rules does not mean accepting a destiny of loneliness and abandonment.”
The Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life recalled examples of people contacting the elderly by phone and internet, with some even performing serenades to the residents of retirement homes.
“Young people,” says the communique, “have been doing this to help alleviate the loneliness being felt by many people who are obliged by the pandemic to stay at home or remain confined in residential care facilities.”
Since health regulations remain in place in many countries to protect the elderly, the Dicastery urges young Catholics to send a hug to the older people of their parish or neighbourhood who may be experiencing loneliness. They can do so by phone, video call, or by sending an image.
“Wherever possible − or whenever the health emergency will allow it − we invite young people to make the embrace even more concrete by visiting elderly in person.”