XX. General Assembly Conclusive Declaration
At the conclusion of the Workshop
and workgroups on Aging and Disability, held on the occasion of the 20th
Plenary Assembly of Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life (19-22 February
2014), we wish to present the following reflections.
1. We wish to reaffirm the intrinsic and inalienable dignity of all human
beings, regardless of their
age, health or existential condition.
2. The unfortunate existence of a “throw-away culture”, as emphasized by
Pope Francis, is increasingly widespread and can only be countered by an
attitude of mutual acceptance.
3. First of all, it is necessary to promote and sustain mutual
relationships within families, sustaining, according to the principle of
subsidiarity, the needs which each family manifests with regard to their
helpful support of aged and disabled persons.
4. This would be translated into real solidarity only if it finds social
and institutional support regarding places and opportunities for relationships,
relief and comfort.
5. In particular, we encourage the efforts of doctors and all other health
care workers, and of those who work in the areas of bioethics and legislation,
to discover appropriate responses to the urgent problem of the abandonment of
elderly disabled persons, mostly in cultures of wellbeing and opulence but also
in other societies.
6. We reaffirm the ethical-professional obligation of doctors and health-care
institutions not to deprive elderly people of necessary health care, but always
to offer treatments considered appropriate according to the criteria of
7. There is an urgent need to favor an accepting culture for the elderly,
which views preparation for death not as an end, but as the accomplishment of
existence for which old age allows for a more mature preparation.
8. The light of faith helps us to understand the reality of disability, in
order to find meaning and hope in every condition of life and sustain the care
and assistance required from families and health-care institutions.