A society that “does not pay a just wage”, that “does not give work” to people and that “only looks to its balance books, that only seeks profit” is unjust and goes against God, Pope Francis said in a homily this morning, the Feast of St Joseph the Worker (Guardian report here).
Speaking at a Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican which he concelebrated with Fr. Egidio Smacchia, founder of the Il Ponte project helping single mothers, Pope Francis said that work, rather than power and money, gives people dignity. When people are stripped of work, he said, they are stripped of dignity:
Work gives us dignity! Those who work have dignity, a special dignity, a personal dignity: men and women who work are dignified. Instead, those who do not work do not have this dignity. But there are many who want to work and cannot. This is a burden on our conscience, because when society is organised in such a way that not everyone has the opportunity to work, to be anointed with the dignity of work, then there is something wrong with that society: it is not right! It goes against God himself, who wanted our dignity, starting from here.
He added that he had read that some of the workers who died in the Bangladesh clothing factory fire had been paid 38 euros a month. “How many brothers and sisters throughout the world are in this situation because of these, economic, social, political attitudes?” he asked.
He added: “He who does not work, has lost his dignity”, because “he cannot find any opportunities for work. Society has stripped that person of dignity.”
He took up the same themes later today in his General Audience.
The Book of Genesis tells us that God created man and woman entrusting them with the task of filling the earth and subduing it, which does not mean exploiting it, but nurturing and protecting it, caring for it through their work (cf. Gen 1:28; 2 15). Work is part of God’s loving plan, we are called to cultivate and care for all the goods of creation and in this way participate in the work of creation! Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. Work, to use an image, “anoints” us with dignity, fills us with dignity, makes us similar to God, who has worked and still works, who always acts (cf. Jn 5:17); it gives you the ability to maintain ourselves, our family, to contribute to the growth of our nation. And here I think of the difficulties which, in various countries, today afflicts the world of work and business; I think of how many, and not just young people, are unemployed, many times due to a purely economic conception of society, which seeks selfish profit, beyond the parameters of social justice.
I wish to extend an invitation to solidarity to everyone, and I would like to encourage those in public office to make every effort to give new impetus to employment, this means caring for the dignity of the person, but above all I would say do not lose hope; St. Joseph also experienced moments of difficulty, but he never lost faith and was able to overcome them, in the certainty that God never abandons us.”
He went on:
I would like to add a word about another particular work situation that concerns me: I am referring to what we could define as “slave labor”, the work that enslaves. How many people worldwide are victims of this type of slavery, in which the person is at the service of his or her work, while work should offer a service to people so they may have dignity. I ask my brothers and sisters in faith and all men and women of good will for a decisive choice to combat trafficking in persons, which includes “slave labor”.
Source: Vatican Radio