(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has reaffirmed that employment is essential to society, families, and individuals and for the dignity of the human person. In a Vatican audience Thursday for staff and families of the Italian Steel Works company “Acciaierie di Terni” celebrating its 130th anniversary, Pope Francis said his thoughts were directed not only to their company and others in the region, but to “all of the working world."
In the current economic climate and the difficulties facing the work environment, the Pope said, “it is necessary to reaffirm that employment is an essential reality for society, for families and for individuals. Work, in fact, directly regards the person, his/her life, freedom and happiness. The primary value of employment is the good of the human person,” because, the Pope explained, it “realizes a person,” intellectually by making demands on his or her attitudes and creative and manual abilities.
Employment, then, should not be considered simply as a means for obtaining profit, he continued, “but above all a purpose that affects man and his dignity. And if there is no work, this dignity is wounded! Anyone who is unemployed or underemployed risks, in fact, being placed on the margins of society, becoming a victim of social exclusion. Many times it happens that people out of work - I think especially of the many unemployed young people today - slip into chronic discouragement or worse, apathy.”
Speaking of the “grave” unemployment problems affecting various European countries, Pope Francis said, this “is the consequence of an economic system that is no longer able to create jobs, because it places in its center an idol which is called money!”
The Pope called on society’s political, social and economic spheres “to promote a different approach, based on justice and solidarity, to ensure everyone has the opportunity to perform work with dignity.”
Work is an essential need, he emphasized, which “should be available to everyone.”
Creativity and solidarity are needed to confront periods of “severe hardship and unemployment,” he said, describing as “courageous” those “creative entrepreneurs and artisans” who “look to the future with confidence and hope”
But he also called on all members of society to act in solidarity with those in need by “giving up something” and adopting “a more sober lifestyle.”
In concluding, the Pope entreated the working world to “never stop hoping for a better future” and to not be “trapped in the vortex of pessimism!”
This difficult and burdensome period of economic turmoil can be overcome, the Pope stressed, if “everyone does their part” by placing the dignity of the human person at the center.
Text from Vatican Radio website