‘Hidden exiles’

Categories: Nation/World

Pope Francis reminds: Don’t forget elderly and others treated as a burden in their own families

Jan. 3, 2014, edition
By Catholic News Service

Just as people must never ignore the plight of today’s immigrants and refugees, they must also remember today’s “hidden exiles” — the elderly and other relatives who are abandoned or forgotten by their own families, Pope Francis said.

“One sign for knowing how a family is doing is to see how they treat children and their elderly” relatives, the pope said at his noon blessing at the Vatican Dec. 29, the feast of the Holy Family.

Remembering how Jesus, Mary and Joseph had to live in exile, seeking escape in Egypt, Christians must also think about the tragedy of “migrants and refugees who are victims of rejection and exploitation, who are victims of human trafficking and slave labor,” he said before praying the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

“But let us also think about the other ‘exiled,’ I would call them the ‘hidden exiles,’ those exiled by their own family: the elderly, for example, who sometimes are treated as a burden,” he said.

The Holy Family’s forced exile shows that “God is where people are in danger, where they suffer, where they flee, where they experience rejection and abandonment,” he said.

But God is also where there is hope —hope in returning to one’s homeland, in being free and being able to build a life of dignity for oneself and one’s family, he said.

The pope reminded people that the key phrases for cultivating peace and joy in one’s family are “May I; thank you; and I’m sorry,” so that everyone treats each other with respect and generosity.