The Pontifical Lateran University was the scene this Thursday of a day-long conference on Ethics, Aging, and the Coming Healthcare Challenge, which looked at ethical, medical, and economic issues arising in light of the new challenges presented by aging demographics and ever-extending life-spans.
Organized by the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, with the co-sponsorship of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and Human Life International, the conference brought together academics, practitioners, clergy, and policy-makers from around the world, to examine how subjects such as intellectual property rights, pharmaceutical research, healthcare infrastructure, and welfare reform may impact healthcare for the elderly and shape the character of intergenerational solidarity.
The secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Bishop Jean Lafitte told Vatican Radio that the conference’s focus is on the demographic crisis that looms over countries in Europe, especially. “One of [the factors contributing to the crisis] is a positive one,” said Bishop Lafitte, “we have a hope of life, which is longer.” By the same token, he continued, “the larger number of people getting old will have to be cared for by a smaller number of people in their active professional life.”
Bishop Lafitte, who was also one of the contributors to the conference, told us his remarks tried to place the challenge of aging in a broader cultural context. “We are seeing in our societies, that people are getting older and older, and people are not ready anymore to welcome life as the good news.” Also, he said, “There is no penetration between generations [by] which can develop feelings and action of solidarity.”
Other co-sponsors of the daylong conference were the Centro di Orientamento Politico, Pontificio Istituto Giovanni Paolo II per Studi su Matrimonio e Famiglia, and the Associazione Famiglia Domani.