KAMPALA – Dear Friends, championed by His Holiness Pope FRANCIS, on this historical and grace-filled event of the First World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly; with profound affection, I greet the Apostolic Administrator of Kampala Archdiocese Rt. Rev. Bishop Paul Semogerere, the Episcopal Conference of Uganda and all collaborators whom I sincerely thank for today’s organization.
In the past, great respect was shown to the elderly. However, nowadays we see that among some peoples old age is esteemed and valued, while among others this is not the case, due to a mentality which gives priority to immediate human usefulness and productivity. Such an attitude frequently leads to contempt for the later years of life, while older people themselves are led to wonder whether their lives are still worthwhile.
However, the elderly still have an important role in society. Elderly people help us to see human affairs with greater wisdom because they have a lot of experience which younger generations don’t. They are the interpreters of ideals and common values which support and guide life in society. Excluding the elderly does harm to society’s progress. Precisely because of their mature experience, they are able to offer young people precious advice and guidance.
We are all familiar with examples of elderly people who remain amazingly youthful and vigorous in spirit. Those coming into contact with them find their words an inspiration and their example a source of comfort. May society use the elderly people to their full potential!
While speaking of older people, I also invite the young to remain close to the elderly. Dear young people, I urge you to do this with great love and generosity. Older people can give you much more than you can imagine. The Book of Sirach offers this advice: “Do not disregard what older people say, because they too have learnt from their parents” (8:9).
In conclusion, I wish to express my profound admiration and gratitude to the family members of Consecrated Life, Volunteer groups and individuals specially devoted to the care of the aged, especially the poor, the abandoned and those in difficulty; May the good Lord reward you for your generous availability, you are the vivid signs of Christ’s presence who promised us that “I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS.” (Mt. 28:20).
+Emmanuel Card. Wamala
Archbishop Emeritus of Kampala.