In addition to heading the laity office, Farrell 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. He is scheduled to go to Congo and South Sudan in early July and to Canada later that month.
The Lebanese government confirmed this week that a planned papal visit next month had been postponed because of Francis’ health.
Francis instituted the day honoring elderly people to drive home 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.
But Francis urged all his contemporaries 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!”
Francis closed out the message by noting that the war in Ukraine has brought another conflict to Europe as the generation that experienced World War II is dying out.
He prayed that all elderly people are made into “artisans of the revolution of tenderness, so that together we can set the world free from the specter of loneliness and the demon of war.”