DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     July 27, 1999     vol. 10, no. 139

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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John Paul II Points Out Value of 'Third Age'; also sends telegrams of condolence on Hassan II's death and of congratulations to Cardinal Cassidy for his golden jubilee as a priest

          CASTELGANDOLFO, JUL 25 (ZENIT).- In honor of the liturgy celebrating Ss. Joachim and Anne, whom Tradition venerates as Our Lady's parents. The celebration motivated the Pope to address the topic of the elderly and their work during this year's first Angelus at Castelgandolfo, the papal summer residence. His words reinforced the meaning of 1999 -- declared the international year of the elderly.

          "The so-called 'third age' is above all a value in itself, by the very fact that life continues, and life is a gift from God. It is also the transmitter of special talents, thanks to the heritage of experience, knowledge, and teachings of which the elderly person is custodian," John Paul II emphasized. "In all cultures, old age is a synonym for wisdom and balance. By their very presence, elderly persons remind everyone, especially youths, that life on earth is a parable with a beginning and an end. In order to reach its fullness it needs to refer to values that are not transient and superficial, but solid and profound."

          John Paul II explained that "as they are marginalized from technological society, which in the name of profit tends to ignore non-productive bands, the elderly have an increasingly important role in the family, especially in the care and education of grandchildren. Without grandparents, young couples would often be at a loss."

          Given this appreciation, the Pope stressed a correct understanding of the human person and, especially, of the elderly. "Old age is regarded with veneration in Sacred Scripture. The elderly person does not ask to be released from old age and its weight but, on the contrary, prays thus: 'You are my hope, O Lord, from my youth; in You have I placed all my trust. O God, do not abandon me now in my old age and white hair, so that I may proclaim your greatness and marvels to all generations.' "

          In New Testament times, it is precisely Joachim and Anne who prepare the coming of the Messiah by welcoming Mary as a gift from God and the Ark of Salvation. In turn, They are welcomed and venerated by the Nazareth family, which becomes a model of attentive help to them. "I pray to Ss. Joachim and Anne, and especially to their celebrated daughter and Mother of the Savior, for intelligent love of the elderly, so that every family and all its members in our society will safeguard, reflect, and communicate love."

          This was John Paul II's first Sunday in Castelgandolfo, following his holiday in the Valley of Aosta. Therefore, he cordially greeted the mayor and beloved citizens of the city, among whom he will reside until the end of the summer.

          Coinciding with his arrival, the annual open-air peach fair was being held. The Pope greeted all those involved in harvesting this fruit, especially appreciated from this zone of the "Roman castles."

          The Pope greeted various groups in different languages. When he addressed the Spanish, he mentioned the day's feast of St. James the Apostle, patron of Spain, a celebration of special solemnity in this Jubilee year in Compostela. ZE99072509

          In related papal activities, John Paul II emphasized the role of the deceased Moroccan King Hassan II as a "man of dialogue." In his telegram of condolence for the Moroccan sovereign's death, sent to Mohammed VI, the new King, John Paul II referred to the historic meeting at Casablanca and Hassan II's role in the Middle East peace process.

          "I remember the great figure of the deceased sovereign, who guided the destiny of his country with dignity along the way of spiritual and material progress," the Pope wrote.

          The Holy Father referred to other meetings during his visit to Casablanca over the question of Jerusalem, stating that he carries "the picture of a man who was anxious to develop the dialogue among believers and to contribute to the establishment of peace among nations, above all in the Middle East." The Pontiff concluded: "I pray that the Merciful God will enfold Hassan in his light and peace, and help you to continue building the kingdom of concord and solidarity you so desire."

          Hassan of Morocco was the first Arab head of State to invite the Pontiff to his country, and John Paul II was the first Pope in history to visit an Islamic country. The Holy Father addressed a meeting of youths in Casablanca in August, 1985. He spoke to them about two important topics: the elements that Catholicism and Islam share in common, and the future the youths "want to build." King Hassan was received at the Vatican in November, 1991. He described John Paul II as an "educator and defender of the values that the Islamic faith and the Christian faith share in common."

          Cardinal Gantin will represent the Pope in Rabat this afternoon, at Hassan II's funeral. The ceremony will begin with respects paid to the casket in the royal palace. The funeral party will then proceed across the city to the royal family's mausoleum where prayers will be recited. Among those attending the funeral are President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary; Juan Carlos I and Sophia, the King and Queen of Spain; French President Jacques Chirac; Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi; the Israeli President and Prime Minister; and the Algerian President. ZE99072507

          In addition to the above, the Holy Father sent a warm congratulatory message to Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary in the priesthood. The Cardinal, who is a native of Sydney, Australia, celebrated his 75th birthday on July 5.

          In his message, which was written in Latin, John Paul II told Cardinal Cassidy, "In so many places, whether at home in your native land or in the posts for the Apostolic See throughout the world, you have fruitfully completed sacred offices; for more than ten years now, you have confirmed so many believers in the faith of Christ and have strengthened those inflamed with excitement for the unity of Christians."

          The Pope closed his letter praying that the Cardinal might "exercise his priestly and episcopal apostolate even more fruitfully into the future until it comes to completion and enjoy successive days and years in that chosen vineyard of Jesus of Nazareth." ZE99072506

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

July 27, 1999       volume 10, no. 139


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