The fourth section of the ninth chapter: The Well-Being Of The Elderly. Let’s dive in for a read as the Aparecida bishops remind us of the Temple faithful, Simeon and Anna:
447. The event of the presentation in the temple (cf. Lk 2:41-50) places before us the encounter of generations. The child who is emerging into life, assuming and fulfilling the Law, and the older people, who celebrate it with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Children and the elderly build the future of peoples: children because they lead history forward, older people because they transmit on the experience and wisdom of their lives.
Inter-generational connections seem to surprise us these days. Maybe the mobility of the modern worker, and the breaking apart of extended families makes it seem strange to us that adolescents and their grandparents’ generation have and make connections. How can this be cultivated first in families?
448. Respect and gratitude toward older people ought to be attested to first by their own family. The Word of God challenges us in many ways to respect and value our elders and old people. Indeed, it invites us to learn from them with gratitude, and to be with them in their solitude and weakness. The statement of Jesus, “The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them” (Mc 14:7), can certainly be understood of them, because they are part of every family, people, and nation. Nevertheless, they are often forgotten and neglected by society and even by their own families.
In the US, too often, we outsource the care of elders. I don’t know how frequently this happens south of us. As people live into their eighties and beyond, certain medical conditions make it difficult for adult children who might in previous eras invited elders into the family home. The bishops do well to remind us of the point of neglect.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.