DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     January 14, 1999     vol. 10, no. 9

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- A new Vatican document, treating the role of the elderly in the Church and in society, will soon be published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

          The new document, written in French, reflects the findings of an international conference on the same topic, sponsored by the Vatican in October 1998. Both the conference and the new document are responses to the decision by the United Nations to proclaim 1999 as the International Year of the Elderly.

          Entitled "The Dignity and Mission of Aged Persons in the Church and in the World," the new statement is signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The 50- page text calls for new pastoral initiatives to address the needs of elderly people.

          The document underscores the importance of statistics released last October by the United Nations, which show that while there are now some 66 million people over the age of 80 in the world, that figure is expected to soar to 370 million by the year 2050. By that latter date, the UN calculates, there could be more than 2 million people over 100 years old. At a time when the number of births is declining in most countries, this rapid aging of the world's population causes real practical concerns.

          The Vatican's contribution to the discussion on the role of the elderly emphasizes both the problems associated with old age and the special benefits which advanced age can carry. The document laments the tendency of modern society to neglect the dignity of elderly people, and especially the trend toward acceptance of euthanasia. It calls for a renewed appreciation for the wisdom which has traditionally been recognized in older people, and encourages the elderly to recognize their own ability to bear witness to the truths of the Christian faith-- including the witness of patient endurance for those who suffer from pain, neglect, or infirmity.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

January 14, 1999       volume 10, no. 9


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