A Study of Aging Topic Focusing on the Catholic Social Doctrine and Sen's Capability Approach

Hsiang-Yi Lin, Daisy Tai-Hsing Day

Abstract


The purpose of this study is to examine the topic of older people in the world from the perspective of the Social Teaching of the Church. As explained in Christifideles Laici, the Catholic Church believes that the laity is summoned to pave the way for the arrival of God's Kingdom, and people who are at an advanced age should still respond to God?s calling through their own unique way of contribution. In Familiaris Consortio it is emphasized that the Church should help older people manifest their roles both in families and religious groups.

Although it is mentioned in these two apostolic exhortations that older people are blessed with wisdom, it is not explained as they actually acquire such a blessing. In order to address this issue and elaborate on the meaning of older people's wisdom, Grun's theory on the nature of older people's wisdom and where such a blessing comes from is made reference to in this study. Moreover, it is emphasized in the apostolic exhortation of Familiaris Consortio that older people are often marginalized in today's industrialized and urbanized society and neglected in their families, while also enduring psychological and/or physical pain. Addressing this issue, the value of older people's work and their unshirkable missions and duties are explained in the present study by examining the nature and value of man's work as mentioned in Laborem Exercens. Sen's "capability approach" is also utilized in the present study as a way to examine older people's values and the deprivation of their capability, allowing an in-depth analysis of this topic.

The findings of this study reveal that Grun's theory of older people's wisdom being shaped by their life-experiences is significantly complementary to the messages on older people in Christifideles Laici and Familiaris Consortio. While Sen's capability approach does not offer a complete set of values or cultural system that solves this problem, the approach of "civilization of love" proposed in the Social Teaching of the Church is very useful in helping one contemplate on the problems faced by older people around the world.


Keywords


The Catholic Social Doctrine, the aging topic, Anselm Grun, Amartya Sen, Sen's Capability Approach

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