ABC News reports in its recent story titled “Cardinal: Pope’s wheelchair use an example to older adults” that Pope Francis is struggling to cope with strained ligaments in his right knee that have greatly limited his mobility. He was recently seen in public for the first time using a wheelchair. He recently said he can no longer walk and must rest his knee on his physician’s orders.
Cardinal Kevin Farrell is the head of the Vatican’s office for laity and a trusted papal adviser. He said the Pope’s willingness to acknowledge and display his limitations while continuing to hold audiences could encourage others to continue contributing as they age.
“We should not hide the fact that with age comes a lessening of our ability to play an active part in the life of the world today,” the Ireland-born American cardinal said. “He sends a message to all of us that we all have to carry on. We may have limitations in old age, but we carry on and we do our best.”
Cardinal Farrell also serves as the camerlengo, the papally appointed official who runs the Vatican when a pope dies or retires, until a conclave elects a new pontiff. Francis’ mobility problems have raised questions about his ability to manage upcoming trips, like his travels to Congo and South Sudan in early July and to Canada later that month.
In fact, the Lebanese government confirmed this week that a planned papal visit next month had been postponed because of the Pope’s health.
Pope Francis instituted World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly honoring elderly people to emphasize his belief that younger generations should value older ones as a resource and not treat them as part of modern “throwaway culture.”
In his message, the pope noted that advanced age is a time of life that isn’t understood, even “by those of us who are already experiencing it.”
“Even though it eventually comes with the passage of time, no one prepares us for old age, and at times it seems to take us by surprise,” he wrote.
The Pope also urged seniors to embrace their advanced ages as a gift and not to lament the diminishment of their strengths or sense of usefulness.
“Along with old age and white hairs, God continues to give us the gift of life and to keep us from being overcome by evil,” he said. “Aging is not a condemnation, but a blessing!”
Reference: ABC News (May 10, 2022) “Cardinal: Pope’s wheelchair use an example to older adults”