John Paul II Appeals for Solidarity Toward Elderly

In Message to Church in Brazil

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Solidarity toward one's neighbor is even more necessary when it is a question of the elderly, says John Paul II.



Such an attitude implies a change of mentality, the Pope said today in his annual message to the Church in Brazil, on the occasion of its traditional Campaign for Fraternity.

"It is necessary," he said, "to substitute the utilitarian and materialist culture -- that measures the value of the human being by what he produces and consumes -- with a culture that recognizes the 'absolute' value of each person, no matter what his degree of ability or efficiency is."

The Holy Father's message, addressed to Bishop Jayme Henrique Chemello, president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, focused on the theme of the campaign, "Life, Dignity and Hope."

"The Church indicates by the Redeemer's mandate the way to spiritual and human well-being, a way of reconciliation and penance, through personal conversion and solidarity with one's neighbor," the Pope wrote.

He stressed the importance of urgently programming "assistance to our brothers and sisters," given that medical progress has made possible the prolongation of the average life of people.

In addition, the Holy Father expressed the hope that social and health programs will be offered to the elderly by public and private institutions, as well as diocesan programs of pastoral care.

Lastly, he greeted "the most elderly Brazilians, especially widowers and widows, elderly religious, and our dear brothers in the priesthood."