VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While the fight to preserve life is often centered on abortion and capital punishment, the future Pope Francis also warned against a more subtle form of disregard for human dignity: what he called “covert euthanasia.”

“In this consumerist, hedonist and narcissistic society, we are accustomed to the idea that there are people that are disposable,” among them, the elderly, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said in a recently published book.


Citing examples of intentional neglect, the future pope said: “I believe that today there is covert euthanasia: Our social security pays up until a certain amount of treatment and then says ‘May God help you.'”

The book, “On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family and the Church in the 21st Century,” was released in English April 19 by Image Books, a division of Random House. It is a collection of conversations between the then- archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Rabbi Abraham Skorka, rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires. The book was originally published in Spanish in 2010 and covers topics that include theological beliefs and social issues.

In the book, then-Cardinal Bergoglio explained how the elderly are often forgotten in a society fixated on self-centeredness.

“There are many who abandon those that fed them, who educated them, who wiped their bottoms,” the future pope said. “It hurts me; it makes me weep inside.”

He described the value of old age and the importance of preserving the memories that are transmitted through the elders of a community.

“God must be very fond of the old because those who are pious with their parents are showered with blessings,” the future pope said.

He said his grandparents were influential figures in his childhood and, throughout his life, he has benefited from the wisdom of the elderly. In his homilies, Pope Francis often cites the lessons he learned from his grandmother.

Reflecting on his own maturity, the future pope said in his book: “I am beginning old age and I will not resist it. I am prepared and I would like to be like a vintage wine, not one gone sour.”