Unemployment Increasing Frontiers of Poverty, Pope Warns

Calls for Joint Efforts to Establish New Avenues for Expanding Solidarity

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Pope Francis has warned that unemployment is increasing poverty, and that human trafficking and slave labour are an unacceptable scourge in today’s world.

In a message to the director general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for its 103rd Session taking place in Geneva from 28 May to 12 June 2014, the Pope said unemployment “is tragically expanding the frontiers of poverty”, adding that this is “particularly disheartening for unemployed young people who can all too easily become demoralised, losing their sense of worth, feeling alienated from society”.

The Pope also highlighted the “grave” issue of mass migration. Despite their hopes for a better future, migrants frequently encounter “mistrust and exclusion, to say nothing of experiencing tragedies and disasters,” the Pope said.

“Having made such sacrifices, these men and women often fail to find dignified work and fall victim to a certain ‘globalisation of indifference’.” He added that their situation exposes them to further dangers “such as the horror of human trafficking, forced labour and enslavement.

“It is unacceptable that, in our world, slave labour has become common coin. This cannot continue!,” the Pope said. “Human trafficking is a scourge, a crime against the whole of humanity. It is time to join forces and work together to free its victims and to eradicate this crime that affects all of us, from individual families to the worldwide community”.

The Holy Father said it is time to “reinforce” existing forms of cooperation and to establish new avenues for expanding solidarity. The Pope said this calls for a renewed insistence on the dignity of every person; a more determined implementation of international labour standards; planning for a focused development on the human person as its central actor and primary beneficiary; a re-evaluation of the responsibilities of international corporations in the countries where they operate, including the areas of profit and investment management; and a concerted effort to encourage governments to facilitate the movement of migrants for the benefit of all, thus eliminating human trafficking and perilous travel conditions.

He added that effective cooperation in these areas “will be greatly assisted by defining future sustainable development goals”.

The Pope concluded by remarking that the social teaching of the Church supports the initiatives of the ILO “which aim to promote the dignity of the human person and the nobility of human labour” and encouraged them in their efforts “to face the challenges of today’s world in fidelity to these lofty goals.”

The ILO conference is on the theme “Building a future with decent work”. Representatives of business and governments of the 185 Member States of the ILO will discuss migration, employment policy strategies, ways out of informality and the strengthening of the convention on forced labour.


Full text of Pope’s message to the ILO

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