Neglect of the Elderly: Pope Francis Declares “Loneliness of the Old” a Great Evil

International   |   Scott Fischbach   |   Oct 4, 2013   |   3:28PM   |   Washington, DC

When I heard Pope Francis’ comments Wednesday that one of the greatest evils in the world is the loneliness of the old and their need for care and companionship, I immediately thought of Mother Teresa’s 1994 speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC. She said,

I can never forget the experience I had in visiting a home where they kept all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them into an institution and forgotten them — maybe. I saw that in that home these old people had everything — good food, comfortable place, television, everything, but everyone was looking toward the door. And I did not see a single one with a smile on the face. I turned to Sister and I asked: “Why do these people who have every comfort here, why are they all looking toward the door? Why are they not smiling?”

I am so used to seeing the smiles on our people, even the dying ones smile. And Sister said: “This is the way it is nearly everyday. They are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten.” And see, this neglect to love brings spiritual poverty. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Are we willing to give until it hurts in order to be with our families, or do we put our own interests first? These are the questions we must ask ourselves, especially as we begin this year of the family. We must remember that love begins at home and we must also remember that ’the future of humanity passes through the family.”

It is surely no coincidence that Pope Francis’ comments were released on October 1st, International Day of the Older Person as declared by the United Nations. Pope Francis has remained on the world’s center stage since his election several months ago and won’t be leaving anytime soon. His thought-provoking comments are often jarring to a world audience that has been anesthetized by trite sound bites with little digestion needed.

Pope Francis’ focus on elevating the cause of the human person with love, love, love is desperately needed. His consistent theme of speaking out against our current “throw-away society” is what the Right to Life movement has been proclaiming for nearly 50 years.

He is saying what Right to Lifers have been doing: loving life, protecting and raising up all human beings. We have always known that we will build a culture of life by saying not only “no more abortions,” but by also saying “yes to life!”



The Right to Life Movement’s love for all people, including mothers, fathers, and their unborn children, is palpable. Our foundational belief–that every human being has a right to exist, to develop, to become, to simply live–is an ageless, timeless truth.

Using the Pope’s world-stage to shine light and love towards the loneliness of the old is powerful, and pro-life. Let us hear his call and fight to insure care for the old, and also provide them the companionship they deserve. Note:  Scott Fischbach is the executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and heads its international outreach MCCL Go.