VATICAN CITY — Elderly people, including former Pope Benedict, attended a gathering of the wise and wrinkled at the Vatican on Sunday, where Pope Francis denounced the neglect and abandonment of the old as "hidden euthanasia." During the festive event in St. Peter's Square, Francis addressed some 40,000 elderly people, seeking to underscore the importance of the old in society. "Violence against the elderly is as inhuman as that against children," Francis said told the crowd, which was entertained by singers including world renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli. "How many times are old people just discarded, victims of an abandonment that is tantamount to hidden euthanasia. This is the result of a throw-away culture that is hurting our world so much," he said.
It was only the third time since his resignation in February, 2013 that Benedict, 87, attended a public event. He looked relatively healthy as he walked into the square using a cane and took a special seat in the front. Benedict, wearing a white overcoat, stayed for about an hour to hear old people speak about their lives and listen to a speech by his successor and then left before Francis led a Mass.
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Pope Francis: meeting with elderly in St Peter's Square (Vatican Radio)