Pope Francis Models Respect for Generations

I am just thrilled watching and seeing Pope Francis hugging children and touching and affirming seniors.  On his way out of St. Patrick’s Cathedral last night, he stopped to talk with an elderly woman who was seated, perhaps in a wheelchair.  Anderson Cooper of CNN mentioned how he was moved seeing that.  And of course, the Pope always hugs the kids and promotes the importance of families and generations.    That sense of family and caring for all members is why I named this blog Generations of New York.

It was so wonderful to hear the Pope mention the elderly and children in his address before Congress yesterday.  Here is what he said:

I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.

When was the last time you heard an American politician talk about seniors or even talk this way at all about the generations?  All four of my grandparents were immigrants from southern Italy and they had a big influence on my life.  The Pope’s kindly, loving demeanor and his Italian-Spanish accented English bring back memories of them for me.  And his embrace of all humankind, especially the poor and the vulnerable is the guidestar for our public policy and personal relationships.

Mike Burgess

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I have been a senior advocate for most of my career. I was Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans. In 2007-2010 I was the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging

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