This Saturday, Pope Francis met with the Italian Christian Workers Association (ACLI) and called on them to promote dignified labor. During the Argentine Pontiff’s remarks, he criticized how the global economic system often puts at the center the ‘god of money,’ which discards children, elderly, young people, and promotes a culture of waste.
This mentality results in exploiting all levels of society, he said, turning specificially to three: Because children are not made, they are killed before birth or exploited; the elderly are mistreated because they are not producing and are without pensions, proper medications or living conditions; and young people cannot find work.
The Jesuit Pontiff turned to his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, and stressed that work must have four elements: freedom, creativity, participation and solidarity.
Freedom, he said, “means that man, following the work of the Creator, works so that the world finds its end again.” This aspect, he said, involves showing the beauty and harmony of work, so it “is not an instrument of alienation, but of hope and of new life.”
The creativity aspect, he noted, requires remembering that, “Every man bears within himself an original and unique capacity to draw from himself and for the persons that work with him the good that God has put in his heart.”
Turning to participation, Francis stressed, this is relational and entails “always seeing in the end of work the face of the other and responsible collaboration with other persons.”
Lastly, the 78-year-old Pope stressed that the solidarity aspect is crucial as it ensures that work is to benefit all. “Every day you meet people who have lost their job – this makes one weep – or are in search of occupation. And they take whatever comes,” Francis lamented. In this context, the Pope praised how ACLI offers closeness and solidarity through its many “circles,” which, he noted, can be places of hospitality and encounter.
“It is necessary to give adequate instruments and opportunities,” he added, “The commitment of your associations and your services is necessary to contribute to offer these opportunities of work and of new ways of employment and professionalism.”
“Today, more than ever, you are called to put them in the field, without sparing yourselves, at the service of a fitting life for all,” he said.
The Christian inspiration on which ACLI is built, he noted, enables its workers to apply the social doctrine of the Church to the challenges of the contemporary world. The Pontiff recalled the association’s commitment to the workers, democracy and the world, and noted how such priorities will propel it to help the poor.
The Pontiff concluded, imparting his Apostolic Blessing, asking for their prayers, and inviting them to join him in saying a Hail Mary.
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Website of the ACLI (in Italian): http://www.acli.it/