What does the Church have to say in face of what has been called the “revolution of longevity?” On the initiative of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, some 550 experts and pastoral agents from 60 countries and five continents will gather in Rome to reflect and find answers together.

It’s the first time that the Holy See organizes an event of this nature, geared to undertaking a pastoral reflection on a subject that is destined to mark the life of society and of the Church for decades to come.

The meeting will be divided into three thematic sessions: the first will be dedicated to the contrast of the throwaway culture and to further reflection on how, in a different way, depending on the socio-cultural context of provenance, the Church can manifest her merciful face remaining always next to all the elderly.

The second will have families at the center and their responsibility towards grandparents and the elderly: they are called to recognize the gift of life and of the faith transmitted by living a pastoral conversion that puts gratitude at the center. The Church cannot accept that the elderly remain deprived of a family context and, where this is lacking, the Church feels called to become that very family for all those that live in solitude. The elderly have need of a family and families have need of the elderly!

The last session will be dedicated to the elderly’s vocation within the Church. The increase in life expectancy and of the generalized improvement of health conditions have given very many people an extra season of life: free of work commitments, but still in good health. How should these years be lived in a Christian way? Pope Francis has said that it’s a new time and that, in a certain sense, we must invent it. One never retires from the Gospel!

The first International Congress of Pastoral Ministry of the Elderly intends to be only the beginning of a reflection that the Dicastery of the Laity, the Family and life has chosen to undertake, to respond concretely to the numerous requests of the Holy Father in this regard. Created for the same reason within it is an office that will be concerned in a stable way with the pastoral care of the elderly in relations to the Episcopal Conferences, also in the light of what will emerge from the Congress “The Richness of Years.”

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