In the book, “On Heaven and Earth”, the then-Cardinal Bergoglio explained how the elderly are often forgotten in a society fixated on self. “There are many who abandon those who fed them, who educated them, who wiped their bottoms,” the future pope said. “It hurts me to see this; it makes me weep inside.”
The now Pope Francis described the value of old age and the importance of preserving the memories that are transmitted through the elders of a community. He goes on to observe that, “God must be very fond of the old because those who are pious with their parents are promised many blessings.”
Since God placed the treatment of parents immediately after the first three Commandments which deal with how human beings should treat God, it is hard to over-emphasize the importance He places on this injunction. As with other violations of human dignity in our self-centered culture, there are a variety of euphemisms which have been devised to conceal the truth of the action of ignoring or locking away an elderly person from the family or those who are responsible: “It’s for mother’s own good” or “We are putting you here for rehab, Dad” or, what a friend told me once not long ago, “We travel a lot and just had to put mom someplace so we can come and go” are all examples of the duplicity that this decision often involves.
The Pope is trying to remind us that, whatever fig leaves we use, God sees.