WASHINGTON (November 18, 1999) -- The U.S. bishops affirm older people, and challenge the entire faith community in a new document unanimously accepted Nonember 18.
Acknowledging "an unprecedented situation" in the United States, "Blessings of Age" responds to the reality of an aging society. One in eight Americans--33.2 million--is at least 65. By 2030 about 20 percent of the population will be over 65.
The statement is addressed to the entire faith community. Bishop Joseph P. Delaney, of Fort Worth, Texas, speaking on behalf of all the bishops in the conference said, "Growing numbers of healthy, active older persons are challenging our stereotypes of later life. We urge society and the church to utilize the talents and experience of older people, and we urge older persons to enrich their own lives by serving others."
The new document was developed by the Bishops' Committee on the Laity in collaboration with the Committee on Women in the Church and in Society. It coincides with the observance of 1999 as the U.N. International Year of Older Persons
In a first for the Bishop's conference, the statement will be available in the following languages: English, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Laotian, Chinese, and Portuguese. In addition it will be available in Braille, Large Print and audio cassette for the sight-impaired from the Xavier Society for the Blind.
A colorful bookmark is included with each statement in English and Spanish, and can also be obtained separately. The bookmark gives the five foundational principles of the
statement on one side, and a message on aging from Pope John Paul II on the othe: "If you think back, you will see that your whole life is a story of God's love coming upon you in successive stages."
Copies of the statement in English and Spanish may be ordered from the United States Catholic Conference Publications office (1-800-235-8722) at $1.95 each, as well as packages of 50 bookmarks for $5. The Xavier Society for the Blind is at 154 East 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010, 212-473-7800. The Vietnamese statement will be available from the National Pastoral Center for the Vietnamese Apostolate, P.O. Box 29745, New Orleans, LA, 504-254-5660.
The English text of "Blessings of Age" is accessible at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops website at www.nccbuscc.org/laity/blessings. Copies of the text in other languages will be posted on the website as soon as the translations are complete.