(Source: Devin Watkins, Vatican News)

Pope Francis on Sunday invited young people around the world to perform “gestures of tenderness” toward the elderly, as many are forced into isolation to observe Covid-19 health guidelines.

The Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life quickly answered that call and launched “The elderly are your grandparents” campaign.

Kindness for the elderly

In a communiqué released on Monday, the Dicastery invited young people “to do something that shows kindness and affection for older people who may feel lonely.”

“The pandemic has hit the elderly particularly hard and it has disconnected the already weak links between generations,” reads the statement.

“However, respecting social distancing rules does not mean accepting a destiny of loneliness and abandonment.”

Alleviating loneliness

The Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life recalled examples of people contacting the elderly by phone and internet, with some even performing serenades to the residents of retirement homes.

“Young people,” says the communique, “have been doing this to help alleviate the loneliness being felt by many people who are obliged by the pandemic to stay at home or remain confined in residential care facilities.”

Send a hug

Since health regulations remain in place in many areas to protect the elderly, the Dicastery urges young Catholics to send a hug to the older people of their parish or neighborhood who may be experiencing loneliness.

They can do so by phone, video call, or by sending an image.

“Wherever possible − or whenever the health emergency will allow it − we invite young people to make the embrace even more concrete by visiting elderly in person.”

Share on social media

Young people are encouraged to share their outreach efforts on social media by including #sendyourhug in the post.

The best posts will be shared on the social media accounts of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life @laityfamilylife.

More on Novena on the Church’s support of seniors:

26/7: Angelus: Francis urges young people to reach out to seniors with “inventiveness of love”

Pope surprises Roman parish priest with special request: “Care for the elderly, don’t leave them alone”

29/6: Angelus: Francis denounces “solitude of the elderly”, treated as “discarded material”, as “tragedy of our times”

“I pray for you”: Pope expresses “spiritual closeness” to old people mistreated in Italian nursing home

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Pope cautions: “When the elderly are not cared for, there is no future for the young”

“The generation that built Europe cannot be left to die”: Sant’Egidio launches urgent appeal for seniors in COVID-19

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.