Pope's Address to Laborers in Cagliari

Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s address upon his arrival to Cagliari, in the Italian island of Sardinia.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

I greet you cordially: workers, entrepreneurs, authorities, families present, in particular the Archbishop, Monsignor Arrigo Miglio, and the three of you who have expressed your problems, your expectations and also your hopes. This visit – as you said – begins in fact with you, who make up the world of work. With this meeting I wish above all to express to you my closeness, especially to the situations of suffering: to so many unemployed young people, to persons on unemployment benefits or precarious , to the entrepreneurs and business who exert themselves to go forward. It’s a reality that I know well because of the experience in Argentina. I didn’t experience it but my family did: my father, as a youth, went to Argentina full of hopes to “make it in America.” And he suffered the terrible crisis of the 30s. They lost everything! There was no work! And I heard talk about this in my home in my childhood. I didn’t see it, I wasn’t born yet, but I felt this suffering in my home, I heard talk of this suffering. I know this well! But I must say to you: “Courage!” But I’m also conscious that I must do everything on my part, so that the word “courage” is not just a beautiful passing word! That it not be  just a cordial smile of an employee, an employee of the Church who comes and says to you: “Courage!” No! I don’t want this! I want this courage to come from within and that it drive me to do all I can as Pastor, as man. You must face it with solidarity, among yourselves – also among us –, all of us must face this historic challenger with solidarity and intelligence.

This is the second city I visit in Italy. It’s curious: both – the first and this one – are islands. In the first I saw the suffering of so many people who , risking their life, seek dignity, bread, health: the world of refugees. And I saw the answer of that city, which – being an island – did not want to isolate itself and received them, made them its own; it gives us an example of welcome: suffering and positive answer. Here, in this second city, island that I visit, I also find suffering here. A suffering that one of you said “weakens you and ends by robbing you of hope.” A suffering – the lack of work – that leads you – forgive me if I’m a bit strong, but I say the truth – to feel without dignity! Where there is no work, dignity is lacking! And this isn’t only a problem of Sardinia – but it’s strong here! – it’s not only a problem of Italy and of some countries of Europe, it’s the consequence of a worldwide choice, of an economic system that leads to this tragedy; an economic system that has an idol at the center, which is called money.

God did not want the center of the world to be an idol, but man, man and woman, who lead the world forward with their work. However now, in this system without ethics, there is an idol at the center and the world has become idolatrous of this god-money.” Pennies command! Money commands! All these things command that serve it, this idol. And what happens? To defend this idol they all crowd at the center and the last fall, the elderly fall because in this world there isn’t a place for them! Some speak about this habit of “hidden euthanasia,” of not taking care of them, of not taking them into account … “Yes, we let them lose …” And young people fall who don’t find work and their dignity. But think of it, a world where young people – two generations of young people – don’t have work. Such as world has no future. Why? Because they don’t have dignity! It’s difficult to have dignity without working. This is your suffering here. This is the prayer you cried out from over there: “Work,” “Work,” “Work.” It’s a necessary prayer. Work means dignity; work means bringing the bread home; work means to love! To defend this idolatrous economic system, the “throw away culture” is installed: grandparents are discarded and young people are discarded. And we must say “no” to this “throw away culture.” We must say: “We want a just system! A system that makes everyone go forward.” We must say: We don’t want this globalized economic system, which does us so much harm!” Man and woman should be at the center, as God wishes, not money!

I wrote some things for you, but, looking at you, these words came to me. I will give these written words to the Bishop as if they had been said. But I preferred to say to you what comes to me from my heart as I look at you at this moment! Look, it’s easy to say don’t lose hope. But to all, to all of you, those who have work and those who don’t have work, I say: “Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope! Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope!” Perhaps hope is as the embers under the ashes; let us help one another with solidarity, blowing on the ashes, so that the fire will come back once again. But hope carries us forward. It isn’t optimism; it’s something else. But hope is not just of one person, all of us make hope! We must uphold hope among all, all of you and all of us who are far away. Hope is a thing of yours and of ours. It is something of all! Because of this, I say to you: “Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope!” But let us be cunning, because the Lord tells us that the idols are more cunning than we are. The Lord invites us to have the cunning of the serpent, with the gentleness of the dove. We have this cunning and we call things by their name. At this moment, in our economic system, in our proposed globalized system of life, there is an idol at the center and this can’t be done! Let us struggle all together so that at the center, at least in our life, are man and woman, the family, all of us, so that hope can go forward. “Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope!”

Now I would like to end by praying with all of you, in silence, praying with all of you. I will say what comes to me from my heart and you, in silence, pray with me.

“Lord God look at us! Look at this city, this island. Look at our families.

Lord, you were not lacking work; you were a carpenter, you were happy.

Lord, we lack work.

The idols want to rob us of our dignity. The unjust systems want to rob us of hope.

Lord, don’t leave us alone. Help us to help one another; to forget our egoism a bit and to feel in our heart the “we,” we a people that wants to go forward.

Lord Jesus, you were not lacking work, give us work and teach us to struggle for work and bless us all. In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Thank you so much and pray for me!

Following are the other words that Pope Francis had prepared and that he gave to the Archbishop of Cagliari, giving them as read:

I would like to share with you three simple but decisive points.

The first: To put back the person and work at the center. The economic crisis has a European and global dimension; but the crisis is not only economic, it is also ethical, spiritual and human. At the root is a betrayal of the common good, be it on the part of individuals or of power groups. Hence, it is necessary to take away the centrality of the law of profit and private income and replace at the center the person and the common good. In fact work is a very important factor for the dignity of the person; work must be guaranteed if there is to be a genuine promotion of the person. This is a task that belongs to the whole of society, because of this, great merit is recognized to those entrepreneurs that, despite everything, have not stopped committing themselves, investing and risking themselves to guarantee employment. The culture of work, as opposed to that of welfare, implies education to work from one’s youth, accompanying work must be the dignity of every work activity, the sharing of work, elimination of every black work. In this phase, the whole of society, in all its components, must make every possible effort so that work, wh
ich is the source of dignity, is the central concern. Your insular condition renders this commitment on the part of all that much more urgent, above all that of the political and economic entities.

Second element: the Gospel of hope. Sardinia is a land blessed by God with so many human and environmental resources, but as the rest of Italy it needs a new élan to get started again. And Christians can and must do their part, making their specific contribution: the evangelical vision of life. I recall the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his visit to Cagliari in 2008: when he said “to evangelize the world of work, of the economy, of politics, which needs a new generation of committed lay Christians able to seek with competence and moral rigor solutions of sustainable development” (Homily, September 7, 2008). The Bishops of Sardinia are particularly sensitive to this reality, especially that of work. You, dear Bishops, indicate the need of a serious and realistic discernment, but orientated also to a path of hope, as you wrote in the Message in preparation for this visit. This is important, this is the right answer! To look at reality in the face, to know it well, to understand it, and to seek together ways, with the method of collaboration and dialogue, of living closeness to bring hope. Never obfuscate hope! Don’t confuse it with optimism – which is simply a psychological attitude – or with other things. Hope is creative; it is capable of creating a future.

Third: a fitting work for all. A society open to hope does not shut itself in on itself, in defense of the interests of a few, but looks ahead in the perspective of the common good. And this requires on the part of all a strong sense of responsibility. There is not social hope without fitting work for all. Because of this, one must “pursue as a priority the objective of access to work and of its maintenance for all” (Benedict XVI, encyclical Caritas in veritate, 32).

I have said “fitting” work, and I underline it, because unfortunately, especially when there is a crisis and the need is strong, inhuman work increases, slave-labor, work without the just security, or without respect for creation, or without respect of rest, of celebration and of the family, working on Sunday when it’s not necessary. Work must be combined with the protection of creation, so that it is preserved with responsibility for future generations. Creation is not merchandise to exploit but a gift to protect. The ecological commitment itself is an occasion of new employment in sectors connected with it, such as energy, the prevention and destruction of different forms of pollution, vigilance over the fires of the woodland patrimony, and so on. May the protection of creation, the protection man with fitting work be the commitment of all! Ecology … and also, “human ecology”!

Dear friends, I am particularly close to you, placing in the hands of the Lord and of Our lady of Bonaria all your anxieties and worries. Blessed John Paul II stressed that Jesus “worked with his own hands. In fact, his work, which was real physical work, occupied the greater part of his life on this earth, and he entered thus in the work of the redemption of man and of the world” (Address to Workers, Terni, March 19, 1981). It is important to dedicate oneself to one’s work with assiduousness, dedication and competence, it is important to have the habit of work.

I hope that, in the logic of gratuitousness and of solidarity, we will be able to come out together from this negative phase, so that secure, fitting and stable work is ensured.

Take my greeting to your families, to children, to young people and to the elderly. I also take you with me, especially in my prayer. And I impart my heartfelt Blessings upon you, your work and your social commitment.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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