Holy See diplomat: the elderly have dignity beyond economic productivity

As a United Nations working group discussed the human rights of the elderly, a Holy See diplomat said that the topic “is especially pertinent in a time when the elderly are abandoned, not only in material instability, but are also made to feel a burden to society.”

“In the West, data tell us that the current century is the aging century: children are diminishing, the elderly are increasing,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, stated on July 16. “Currently 700 million people, or 10% of the world’s population, are above 60 years of age. By 2050, it is estimated that this number will double, reaching 20% of the global population.”

“It will become increasingly important to promote an attitude of acceptance and appreciation of the elderly and to integrate them better in society,” he continued. “My delegation would like to reiterate that the ideal is still for the elderly to remain within the family, with the guarantee of effective social assistance for the greater needs which age or illness entail.”

Archbishop Auza added that “though it is important to reaffirm the right of the elderly to work or to receive relevant skills training, we must be careful that the policies we promote do not play into the same tired narrative that reduces our value as human beings to what we produce, while ignoring our inherent dignity and the countless other ways in which the most vulnerable among us contribute to society’s greater good.”



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