Bologna: “We Can’t Get Used to Youth Unemployment”

“It’s necessary to increase the opportunities of fitting work”

© L'Osservatore Romano

“The situation of youth unemployment, and that of so many who have lost their job and are unable to reinsert themselves, are realities we can’t grow used to, treating them as if there were mere statistics,” Pope Francis told a meeting in the main square of Bologna on October 1, 2017, during a pastoral visit to the Italian city.

Having left the Regional Hub Center, the Pope went to the Main Square, where the meeting took place at noon with workers, the unemployed, Representatives of Uni-Industry, Labour Unions, Conf-Cooperative and Legacoop. Among the delegations that the Holy Father greeted were relatives of the victims of the slaughter at the Bologna railroad station on August 2, 1980.

After the Archbishop of Bologna H.E. Monsignor Matteo Maria Zuppi’s welcoming address, the Pontiff gave the following address to those present and concluded with the recitation of the Angelus.

Here is a ZENIT translation of the italian text.

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The Holy Father’s Address

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good Sunday!

I greet you all that belong to the world of labor in the variety of its expressions. Among these, unfortunately, there is a negative one, namely, the difficult and at times anguishing situation of the lack of work. Thank you for your welcome!

You represent different social sectors, often in harsh dispute among themselves, but you have learned that that you can only come out of the crisis and build the future together. Dialogue alone, in mutual competencies, can make it possible to find effective and innovative answers for all, including on the quality of work, in particular, indispensable welfare. It’s what some call the “Emilia system.” Try to carry it forward. There is need for stable solutions capable of helping to look at the future to answer the needs of persons and families.

The cooperative experience has been developed for a long time in your territory, which is born of the fundamental value of solidarity. It still has much to offer today, also to help the many who are in difficulty and are in need of that “social elevator” that, according to some, would be altogether out of use. Let’s never bend solidarity to the logic of financial profit, also because this way we take it – I could say rob it – from the weakest that are so in need of it. To seek a more just society is not a dream of the past but a commitment, a job, which today is in need of all.

The situation of youth unemployment, and that of so many who have lost their job and are unable to reinsert themselves, are realities we can’t grow used to, treating them as if there were mere statistics.

Hospitality and the fight against poverty pass to a great extent through work. True help is not offered to the poor without their being able to find work and dignity. This is the exciting challenge, as in the years of reconstruction after the War, which left so much poverty. The recent “Pact for Work,” which has seen all the social sectors, and also the Church, sign a common commitment to help one another in the search for stable answers, not alms, is an important method that I hope will be able to give the expected fruits.

The economic crisis has a European and global dimension. And, as we know, it’s also an ethical, spiritual and human crisis. At the root is a betrayal of the common good, be it by individuals be it by groups of power. Therefore, it’s necessary to take away centrality from the law of profit and assign it to the person and the common good. However, for this centrality to be real, effective and not only proclaimed in words, it’s necessary to increase the opportunities of fitting work. This is a task that belongs to the entire society: in this phase, in a special way, the whole social body in its various components, is called to make every effort so that work, which is the primary factor of dignity, is a central concern.

We find ourselves here before Saint Petronius, remembered as Pater and Protector, and depicted always with the city in his hands. From here we see physically three constitutive aspects of your city: the Church, the Municipality and the University. When they dialogue and cooperate among themselves, a beautiful humanism is reinforced, which they express, and the city – so to speak – “breathes,” it has a horizon, and is not afraid to address the challenges that present themselves. I encourage you to enhance its value, of which you are recipients, to seek wise and farsighted solutions to the complex problems of our time, seeing them, yes, as difficulties, but also as opportunities for growth and improvement. And what I say is true for Italy as a whole and for the whole of Europe.

Dear friends, I’m particularly close to you, putting in the hands of the Lord and of Our Lady of Saint Luke all your anxieties and concerns. To Her, so venerated by all the people of Bologna, we now turn with the prayer of the Angelus. 

Copyright of the translation, ZENIT

by Virginia M. Forrester

 

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