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VATICAN CITY, APR 11, 2002 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was the
Pope's Message to participants in the Second World Assembly on Ageing which
is taking place in Madrid, Spain from April 8 through

The Holy Father writes that "a society shows itself just to the extent
that it meets the needs of all its members." He went on to ask: "How can we
guarantee the endurance of a society which is ageing, and safeguard the
social security of older persons and their quality of life?"

"In responding to this question," he continues, "we must not be guided
chiefly by economic criteria; rather, we must be inspired by sound moral
principles. In the first place, the elderly must be considered in their
dignity as persons, which does not diminish with the passing years nor with
physical and mental deterioration. ... Experience shows that when this
positive view breaks down older people are quickly marginalized and
condemned to a loneliness which is a kind of social death. And does not the
self-esteem of older people depend in large part on how they are viewed in
the family and in society?"

John Paul II affirms that the "effective inclusion" of the elderly in
society with their experience, knowledge and wisdom entails "helping to
solve the problems connected with ageing."

Furthermore, he adds, formative programs are necessary to educate people
about ageing in order that they may adapt to changes in life-style and work.

The Pope underlines that in moments of suffering and dependence, the
elderly "not only need to be cared for with scientific and technical means
but also to be looked after with efficiency and love, so that they do not
feel that they are a useless burden or what is worse reach the point of
wanting and asking for death. Our civilization must guarantee to older
people care which is rich in humanity and inspired by true values."
MESS/AGEING/... VIS 20020411 (330)

Courtesy of: Vatican Information Service/Catholic Information Network