By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY — Any Catholic who participates in the celebration July 24 of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly can receive a plenary indulgence, the Vatican announced.
“Grandparents, the elderly and all the faithful who, motivated by a true spirit of penance and charity,” attend Mass or other prayer services for the occasion can receive the indulgence, which “can also be applied as a suffrage for the souls in purgatory,” said the announcement published May 30.
Pope Francis celebrated the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in 2021 and decreed that it be observed each year on the Sunday closest to the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, Jesus’ grandparents.
In his message for this year’s celebration, Pope Francis asked older people like himself to be “artisans of the revolution of tenderness.”
“We grandparents and elderly people have a great responsibility: to teach the women and men of our time to regard others with the same understanding and loving gaze with which we regard our own grandchildren,” he had written.
Addressing younger people as well, the 85-year-old pope encouraged them to seek out and visit those who feel most alone.
“Expecting a visit can transform those days when we think we have nothing to look forward to; from an initial encounter, a new friendship can emerge,” he said. “Visiting the elderly who live alone is a work of mercy in our time!”
Announcing the indulgence May 30, the Vatican said it also can apply to those who “devote adequate time to actually or virtually visiting their elderly brothers and sisters in need or in difficulty.”
To receive a plenary indulgence, which is a remission of the temporal punishment due for one’s sins, a person must show detachment from sin, go to confession, receive the Eucharist and pray for the intentions of the pope.
The indulgence also is available to “the elderly sick and all those who, unable to leave their homes for a serious reason, spiritually join” the celebrations, particularly by watching on television or the internet or listening on the radio, and “offer to the merciful God their prayers, sorrows and sufferings,” the Vatican said.