Message of Pope Francis for the Elimination of Child Labor in Agriculture - FULL TEXT



(November 2, 2021)


To His Excellency Qu Dongyu
FAO Director General


On behalf of and on behalf of the Holy Father, I would like to thank the FAO for having promoted, in collaboration with the International Labor Organization (Oil), this high-level global meeting which focuses our attention on an increasingly worrying phenomenon, given the estimates recent international organizations.

In fact, even more so when it manifests itself as exploitation, child labor becomes a scourge that cruelly wounds the dignified existence and harmonious development of the little ones, considerably limiting their opportunities for the future, since it reduces and harms their lives to satisfy the productive and lucrative needs of adults.

The negative connotations of this drama have been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has pushed an increasing number of minors to drop out of school to unfortunately fall into the clutches of this form of slavery. For many of these little brothers of ours, not going to school means not only missing opportunities that will enable them to face the challenges of adulthood, but also falling ill, i.e. being deprived of the right to health, due to the deplorable conditions in which they must carry out the tasks that are cowardly demanded of them.

If we focus on the agricultural sector, the emergency is even more alarming: thousands of boys and girls are forced to work tirelessly, in exhausting, precarious and demeaning conditions, suffering mistreatment, abuse and discrimination. But the situation reaches the apex of desolation when it is the parents themselves who are forced to send their children to work, because without their active contribution they could not support the family.

Mr. Director General, from this meeting a powerful cry may arise which demands from the competent international and national bodies the defense of the serenity and happiness of children! The most profitable investment humanity can make is child protection! Protecting children means respecting the moment of their growth, letting these fragile shoots benefit from the conditions suitable for their opening and flowering. Protecting children also involves adopting incisive measures to help the families of small farmers, so that they are not obliged to send their children to the countryside to increase their income, which being so low does not allow them to maintain. their family with dignity. In the end,

How important it would be for an appropriate and effective legal system, both international and national, to defend and protect boys and girls from this harmful technocratic mentality that has taken hold of the present. To this end, people and associations must multiply which, at every level, work to ensure that the desire for immeasurable profit that condemns children and young people to the brutal yoke of labor exploitation gives way to the logic of care. In this sense, a work of denunciation, education, awareness, conviction is required so that those who have no qualms about enslaving childhood with unbearable burdens are able to see further and deeper, overcoming selfishness and this. anxiety to consume in a compulsive way that end up devouring the planet,

Your Excellency, if we aspire to ensure that our society can enjoy the dignity that ennobles it, if we want the law to triumph over arbitrariness, we must ensure that our children and young people have a present without labor exploitation. And this will only be possible if we commit ourselves jointly and peremptorily to ensuring that they care and cultivate their dreams, play, prepare and learn. Then the way will open for a bright future for the human family. I have no doubt that today's event and the current International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor will contribute to this  .

In renewing the will of the Holy See and the commitment of the Catholic Church and its institutions so that the international community does not stop fighting in a firm, joint and decisive way the scourge of the labor exploitation of minors, I invoke on you, Mr. Director General, and on those who work to free children and young people from all adversities, the Blessing of Almighty God.

Vatican, November 2, 2021

Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State


Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office , 2 November 2021