The Vatican (LifeNews.com) -- In a special Lenten message to Catholics worldwide, Pope John Paul II called elderly people a "resource" and condemned euthanasia and assisted suicide. As the pontiff grows older and more frail due to Parkinson's disease, he is increasingly speaking out on controversial end-of-life issues. The Pope said elderly people should be considered a valuable resource to society -- not a burden. "The care of the elderly, above all when they pass through difficult moments, must be of great concern to all the faithful," especially in Western countries where older people often struggle to find a place in society, the pope said in his written message. "What would happen if the people of God yielded to a certain current mentality that considers these people, our brothers and sisters, as almost useless when they are reduced in their capacities due to the difficulties of age or sickness," the pope said. "Human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages," he said. Even "in the presence of illness and when physical weakness reduces the person's ability to be self-reliant," life is precious and a gift from God, the Catholic Church leader explained. Read the complete story.