Unemployed on Pope's Mind During Holidays

Calls for Solidarity With Those Affected by Financial Crisis

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- This Christmas, Benedict XVI will be thinking of those affected by the current economic crisis, and in particular for those who have lost their jobs.

The Pope said this today upon receiving in audience members of the Labor Office of the Apostolic See (ULSA), which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its establishment by Pope John Paul II on Jan. 1.

«Approaching Christmas, I think almost naturally about the unemployment crisis that worries all of humanity,» he said. «Whoever has the possibility to work, give thanks to the Lord, and open your spirit with generosity to those who are unemployed or who are encountering economic hardship.»

«May the Christ Child, who was born on that Holy Night of Bethlehem, draw near us in our difficulties, and look with kindness on those who are sorely affected by this world crisis, awakening in them feelings of authentic solidarity,» the Pontiff added.

Citing the message that he wrote for the World Day of Peace — to be celebrated Jan. 1 — Benedict XVI recalled: «The fight against poverty really needs are men and women who live in a profoundly fraternal way and are able to accompany individuals, families and communities on journeys of authentic human development.»

Work and pray

The Holy Father also highlighted «the unique task that this office is called to carry out in the formation of personnel, so that the activity of the community of workers in the Holy See might be ever more effective and supportive.»

«Those who work in the different offices and departments of the Holy See,» the Pontiff said, «form a unique ‘family,’ whose members are united not only functionally but also by the same mission, that of helping the Successor of Peter in his ministry at the service of the universal Church. The professional labor that is carried out here thus constitutes a ‘vocation’ that must be cultivated with care and an evangelic spirit, seeing in it a concrete path to holiness.»

«This demands,» Benedict XVI emphasized, «that the love for Christ and for one’s brothers and sisters, together with a shared sense of Church, animate and inspire competency, commitment, professionalism, and an honest and proper dedication as well as an attentive and mature responsibility, in this way transforming the work itself, whatever it be, into a prayer.»

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