Vatican calls for Christians and Jains to join in promoting care for the elderly

(Photo: Ecumenical News / Peter Kenny)Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance (R)at an inter-religious meeting June 28, 2011 at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva with the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Olav Fykse Tveit (C) and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (L), president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The Vatican says it would like Christians and Jains to  work together on care for the elderly, who are rejected in many societies.

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said March 31 it sent a message to the Jain community on Mahavir Jayanti, the holiday in which they mark the birth of Vardhaman Mahavir, Vatican Radio reports.

Jainism is an India-based religion with more than 6 million adherents worldwide, known for its emphasis on non-violence and asceticism and Mahavir was one of its founders.

This year's message looks at how Christians and Jains can work together to promote the care of the elderly.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the interreligious council wrote, "In many societies across the world people tend to reject the elderly."

He said it is also worrisome and deplorable that many elderly people, especially the sick and lonely, are abandoned by their families and relatives because they feel they are a bother, burden and waste.

The cardinal said such people are "treated as the neo-outcaste of the contemporary world served with a modicum of contact and care."

He spoke of the "the growing neglect of the elderly by the young and tendency to abdicate filial responsibility towards the parents and grandparents."

The cardinal said the situation, "therefore invites us all, believers and others, to re-awaken in us, both at a personal and collective level, a sense of gratitude, affection and responsibility towards our parents, grandparents and other elderly people."

He noted, "Making them feel that they are a living part of our families, communities and society and that we are ever indebted to them is a sure way of challenging the 'throw away' culture," he continues.

Cardinal Tauran made a call for Christians and Jains, having religious traditions and conscious of our shared responsibility towards the society to join hands with others "to promote a culture where the elderly are loved, respected and cared for."

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