Pope Francis says "The alliance between the elderly and children will save the human family." FULL TEXT + Video


in Paul VI Audience Hall on Wednesday, 17 August 2022


Catechesis on Old Age - 17. The "Ancient of days". Old age is a reassurance regarding the destination to a life that never dies again

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The words we heard of Daniel’s dream evoke a mysterious, and at the same time, glorious, vision of God. This vision is picked up at the beginning of the Book of Revelation in reference to the Risen Jesus, who appears to the Seer as Messiah, Priest and King, eternal, omniscient and unchanging (1:12-15). He lays his hand on the shoulder of the Seer and reassures him, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (vv. 17-18). Thus disappears the last barrier of fear and anguish that a theophany has always provoked. The Living One reassures us, he gives us security. He too died, but now occupies the place destined for him –the First and the Last place.

In this intertwining of symbols – there are many symbols here – there is an aspect that perhaps might help us better understand the connection of this theophany, this apparition of God, with the cycle of life, historical time, the lordship of God over the created world. And this aspect is specifically connected with old age. How is it connected? Let’s see.

The vision communicates an impression of vigour and strength, of nobility, of beauty and charm. His clothing, his eyes, his voice, his feet – everything is glorious in this vision: it is all about a vision! His hair, however, is white – like wool, like snow – like the hair of an old man. The most widely-used biblical term indicating an old man is “zaqen”, which comes from “zaqan”, and means “beard”. Snow-white hair is an ancient symbol of a very long time, of time immemorial, of an eternal existence. We do not need to demythologize everything for children – the image of a God, who is watching over everything with snow-white hair, is not a silly symbol, it is a biblical image, it is a noble image, even a tender image. The Figure in Revelation that stands amidst the golden lampstands overlaps that of the “Ancient of days” in Daniel’s prophecy. He is as old as all of humanity, but even older. He is as ancient and new as the eternity of God. For the eternity of God is like this, ancient and new, because God surprises us with his newness, he always comes to meet us every day in a special way for us, in that moment. He is always renewing himself: God is eternal, he is from all time, we can say that there is like an old age with God, that’s not true, but he is eternal, he renews himself.

In the Eastern Churches, the Feast of the Meeting with the Lord, celebrated on 2 February, is one of the twelve great feasts of the liturgical year. This feast places emphasis on the meeting of Jesus with the old man Simeon in the Temple, it places emphasis on the meeting between humanity, represented by the watchman Simeon, and Anna, with the little Lord Christ, the eternal Son of God, made man. An extremely beautiful icon of this scene can be admired here in Rome among the mosaics in Santa Maria in Trastevere.

In the Byzantine liturgy, the Bishop prays with Simeon: “He is the child born of the Virgin. He is the Word and God of God, the One, who for our sake was incarnate and saved man.” And it continues, “The door of heaven is opened today: the eternal Word of the Father, having assumed a temporal nature, without giving up his divinity, is presented by his will in the temple under the Law by the Virgin Mary, and the watchman takes him in his arms”. These words express the profession of faith from the first four Ecumenical Councils, which are sacred for all the Churches. But Simeon’s action is also the most beautiful icon for the special vocation of old age. Looking at Simeon, we behold the most beautiful icon of old age – to present the children who come into the world as an uninterrupted gift to God, knowing that one of them is the Son generated within God’s own intimacy, before all the ages.

Old age, on its way to a world in which the love that God has infused into Creation will finally radiate without obstacles, must accomplish this gesture performed by Simeon and Anna, before taking its leave. Old age must bear witness – for me this is the core, the most central aspect of old age – old age must bear witness to children that they are a blessing. This witness consists in their initiation – beautiful and difficult – into the mystery of our destination in life that no one can annihilate, not even death. To bring the witness of faith before a child is to sow that life. To bear the witness of humanity too, and of faith, is the vocation of the elderly. To give children the reality that they have lived as a witness, to bear witness. We old people are called to this, to bear witness, so that they might bring it forward.

The witness of the elderly is credible to children. Young people and adults are not capable of bearing witness in such an authentic, tender, poignant way, as elderly people can. It is irresistible when an old person blesses life as it comes their way, laying aside any resentment for life as it goes away. There is no bitterness because time is passing by and he or she is about to move on. No. There is that joy of good wine, of wine that has aged well with the years. The witness of the elderly unites the generations of life, the same with the dimensions of time: past, present and future, for they are not only the memory, they are the present as well as the promise. It is painful – and harmful – to see that the ages of life are conceived of as separate worlds, in competition among themselves, each one seeking to live at the expense of the other: this is not right. Humanity is ancient, very ancient, if we consider time measured by the clock. But the Son of God, who was born of a woman, is the First and the Last for every time. This means that no one falls outside of his eternal generation, outside of his glorious might, outside of his loving proximity.

The alliance – and I am saying alliance – the alliance between the elderly and children will save the human family. There is a future where children, where young people speak with the elderly. If this dialogue does not take place between the elderly and the young, the future cannot be clearly seen. The alliance between the elderly and children will save the human family. Can we please give back to children, who need to learn to be born, the tender witness of the elderly who possess the wisdom of dying? Will this humanity, which with all its progress seems to be an adolescent born yesterday, be able to retrieve the grace of an old age that holds firmly to the horizon of our destination? Death is certainly a difficult passage from life for all of us it is a difficult passage. All of us must go there, but it is not easy. But death is also a passage that concludes the time of uncertainty and throws away the clock. This is difficult because this is the passage of death. For the beautiful part of life, which has no more deadlines, begins precisely then. But it begins from the wisdom of that man and that woman, the elderly, who are capable of bearing witness to the young. Let us think about dialogue, about the alliance between the elderly and children, of the elderly with young people, and let us do it in such a way that this bond is not broken. May the elderly have the joy of speaking, of expressing themselves with the young, and may the young seek out the elderly to receive the wisdom of life from them.


I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet the university students from different countries and different religions who participate in the meeting days promoted by the "Opera Giorgio La Pira": dear friends, I encourage you to take paths of dialogue and comparison to build a world of peace.
I greet with particular affection the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception - they were in the curia of Buenos Aires, I know them well - who are celebrating the General Chapter: dear sisters, I invoke upon you abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit and I invite you to cooperate generously for evangelization. , especially of the younger generations and the most fragile people. And let's pray for vocations!
My thoughts, as always, go to Ukraine: let's not forget that battered people.
And finally my thoughts, as usual, to the elderly, the sick, young people and newlyweds. The solemnity of the Assumption, which we celebrated a few days ago, invited us to live with commitment the journey of this world constantly directed towards eternal goods. May Mary help each one to always put Christ and the Gospel first.
To all my blessings

Special Greetings

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience. Upon you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

Je salue cordialment les pèlerins de langue française. Frères et sœurs, la mort est certiinement a difficult passage de la vie. Mais sachons apprendre des anciens, qui tiennent ferme l'horizon de notre destinée, qu'elle ouvre sur la vie plus belle encore qui n'aura pas de fin. Que Dieu vous bénisse.
[I cordially greet the French-speaking pilgrims. Brothers and sisters, death is certainly a difficult passage in life. But we know how to learn from the elderly, who hold firm the horizon of our destination, which opens up to the most beautiful life that no longer expires. God bless you!]
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience. Upon you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!
Einen herzlichen Gruß den Pilgern deutscher Sprache. Streben wir danach, in unserem alltäglichen Leben jene Allianz zwischen Alten und Jungen zu stärken, welche die menschliche Familie rettet. Gott scores euch und eure Lieben.
[I extend a heartfelt greeting to the German-speaking pilgrims. We try to strengthen, in our daily life, that alliance between the old and the children that saves the human family. God bless you and your loved ones.]
I cordially greet los peregrinos de lengua española. Pidamos la intercesión de la Bienaventurada Virgen María, Asunta a los cielos, para que podamos siempre contemplar el misterio de la life y de la muerte con ojos de eternidad. Que Dios los bendiga. Muchas gracias.
Caros peregrinos de língua portuguesa, bem-vindos! Este período de verão, para muitos um tempo de férias, seja para todos nós uma oplentade de maior aproximação to Jesus Cristo. Ele põe a sua mão sobre nós, fortalece-nos and anima-nos a procurá-Lo nos idosos e nos pobres. Que Nossa Senhora da Assunção nos guarde neste caminho de fé. Deus vos abençoe!
[Dear Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, welcome! May this summer period, which is a time of holidays for many, may be an opportunity for everyone to get even closer to Jesus Christ. He lays his hand on our shoulders, invigorates us and animates us to seek him in the elderly and the poor. May Our Lady of the Assumption guard us on this journey of faith. God bless you!]
أُحَيِّي المؤمِنينَ الناطِقينَ باللغَةِ العربِيَّة. تحالُفُ كبارِ السِّنِّ معَ الأطفالِ يُنقِذُ العائلةَ البشريَّة، لِذا يجبُ علَى الشَّيخوخةِ أنْ تُقَدِّمَ للأطفالِ شهادَةَ بَرَكَتِهِم: تُقومُ بِتَنْشِئَتِهِم - الجميلةِ والصَّعبةِ - علَى سرِّ غايةِ الحياةِ الّتي لا يمكنُ لأحدٍ أنْ يقضيَ عليها، ولا حتَّى الموت. باركَكُم الرّبُّ جَميعًا وحَماكُم دائِمًا مِن كُلِّ شَرّ!
[I greet the Arabic-speaking faithful. The covenant of old people and children will save the human family, therefore, old age must bear witness to children of their blessing: it consists in their initiation - beautiful and difficult - into the mystery of a destination to life that no one can annihilate, not even the death. The Lord bless you all and always protect you from all evil!]
Serdecznie pozdrawiam Polaków. W tych dniach tysiące pielgrzymów przybywa pieszo do sanktuarium na Jasnej Górze modląc się o pokój i pojednanie na świecie. Jest wśród nich wielu Ukraińców, którzy znaleźli gościnny dom w waszej ojczyźnie. Zawierzajmy Czarnej Madonnie losy Europy i świata. Z serca wam błogosławię.
[I cordially greet the Poles. These days, thousands of pilgrims go on foot to the Jasna Góra sanctuary, praying for peace and reconciliation in the world. Among them there are many Ukrainians who have found a hospitable home in your country. We entrust the destiny of Europe and the world to the Black Madonna. I heartily bless you.]

Source: Vatican.va - Image Screenshot