Pope Francis to be featured in new Netflix series on the elderly

Pope Francis to be featured in new Netflix series on the elderly

Pope Francis greets an elderly woman as he meets with people of the Banado Norte neighborhood in Asuncion, Paraguay, in this July 12, 2015, file photo. On Dec. 16, 2019, the eve of his 83rd birthday, Pope Francis met with a group of his peers, although many were a few years younger, and told them that "old age is a time of grace." (Credit:Paul Haring/CNS.)

Netflix has announced that next year it plans to release a new documentary series sharing the stories of elderly people from around the world, including Pope Francis.

ROME – Netflix has announced that next year it plans to release a new documentary series sharing the stories of elderly people from around the world, including Pope Francis, an outspoken advocate of the elderly, who will feature prominently in the show.

According to a Dec. 16 press release from Netflix, the new series is based on the 2018 book, Sharing the Wisdom of Time, which is a collection of personal stories from 30 grandparents and elderly people who share their life stories, as well as Pope Francis’s reaction to these stories.

The essays in the book were compiled by Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, a close confidant of the pope and head of Italy’s Jesuit-run journal, La Civiltà Cattolica.

Netflix’s new series, expected to be released in 2021, will present men and women over the age of 70 speaking with younger generations, including young filmmakers under 30 from the same countries as their elderly counterparts.

These people share their life stories and experiences, and represent different religions, ethnic backgrounds, and social statuses, touching on issues of broad cultural and human interest, such as love, struggle, work, and dreams.

Pope Francis, who turns 84 this week, is among the people featured series as an “elderly among the elderly,” appearing in all four episodes of the series.

Pope Francis has consistently spoken of the need for society to show greater respect to its senior members and has often urged young people to forge stronger ties with their grandparents, whom he has hailed as fonts of wisdom and memory.

He has underlined the importance of the elderly in a particular way during the coronavirus pandemic, which disproportionately effects senior citizens.

The Vatican has launched two different social media campaigns intended to increase support for elderly people, particularly those in nursing homes, who might be isolated or lonely as a result of coronavirus lockdowns, urging young people to get in touch with a grandparent or senior citizen they know who could use a word of comfort.

“They will speak to you of things that can thrill your minds and fill your hearts,” the pope said announcing the first campaign, “The elderly are your grandparents,” in July. That campaign urged young people to send a virtual hug to elderly people through a phone call, video call or letter.

A second campaign, called “A Gift of Wisdom,” was launched Nov. 27 for the holiday season encouraging younger generations to share bits of wisdom or advice they got from grandparents or other seniors along the way to their social media accounts in a show of support during Christmas.

The new Netflix series is produced by Italy’s Stand by Me productions, which is a partner of the Asacha Media Group and is known for several popular television programs. It will be available exclusively on Netflix in all countries where the service is offered.

This marks the latest of several productions Pope Francis has been the subject of since his election to the papacy in March 2013, including the 2019 fictional Netflix film, The Two Popes, which received mixed reviews from Catholics.

Most recently, the pope was featured in a documentary by Russian filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky called Francesco, which became the source of controversy over a clip of the pope commenting on civil unions that had been taken from a previous interview and which many argued was taken out of context.

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen

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