Deputy Principal - Faith

In the last Newsletter I outlined the Australian Bishops concerns for the elderly i.e. discrimination, marginalisation and their solutions centred around pensions improvements, volunteering and their wider role in society. 

This week the focus is on the Australian Bishops’ concerns for the dignity and wellbeing of the elderly.  They highlight the fact that many elderly experience levels of isolation and loneliness that effect their health and wellbeing.  Loneliness is seen as the great poverty of our contemporary culture.  The elderly may be in nursing homes, residential care and regional or remote communities and be rarely visited – this is a major health risk.  The Australian Bishops encourage visiting and pastoral care of the elderly, improved and modified housing and transport and generally make our towns and cities safer places for the elderly.  The Bishops also address ageism where the wishes and rights of the elderly are overlooked.  This is linked to elder abuse where residents of age care facilities can be subject to violence, abuse and neglect.  Financial and emotional abuse by family members is also a problem.  These elder members of our community according to the Australian Bishops are people of God who have an inherent dignity.  The Bishops call for adequate resources and that we, “recognise aged care as an essential community service.”  They call for more nurses and care workers to be trained, funding increased and care individually tailored.

The Bishops then go on to expressing their concern that society protect people at the end of their life: 

The reality of death and dying can be devalued, and so can the people who are approaching death…We affirm the sacredness of each person’s life, the inviolable right to life and the need to defend the right of the most vulnerable.

The Bishops express their concern about euthanasia and assisted dying saying that we must foster a culture of compassionate care and they emphasise the importance of palliative care.

Each and every person is created in the image of God. This is the basis of our worth and dignity. Even in our weakness, our fragility and decline, the image of God still shines in our eyes and we remain his beloved daughters and sons. And for us as Christians, that we are one with Christ draws us to his standard of serving and of valuing the worth and dignity of others: ‘just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:40). When we care for the elderly, we care for Christ. And when we neglect, exclude or seek to ‘throw away’ the elderly, we do this to Christ.

In the next Newsletter I will outline how the Australian Catholic Bishops conclude their 2016 Social Justice Statement by reflecting on the role of the Catholic Community as the Australian society ages.