Vatican City, 5 July 2014 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father began his pastoral visit to the Italian region of Molise, a visit which took as its theme “God never tires of forgiving”.
He departed from the Vatican by helicopter at 7.45 this morning, landing an hour later at the heliport of the University of Molise in Campobasso, where he was received by the civil and religious authorities.
“God breaks all the moulds, if we do not have the courage to break moulds, we will not move ahead, as this is what our Lord presses us to do: to be creative with the future”, Pope Francis began his address. “The place where we meet is the University, and this is very significant, as it expresses the importance of research and training, also to respond to the new and complex questions the current economic crisis poses on a local, national and international level. This was shown a moment ago by the young farmer who chose to take a degree in agriculture and to work the land, 'by vocation'. Working as a farmer does not mean staying 'fixed' to the land, but rather engaging in dialogue, a fruitful and creative dialogue. It is the dialogue of man with the land that he renders productive, fruitful for all of us. … This is one of the great challenges of our age. Reconverting to a development that knows how to respect creation. I see in America, in my homeland; many forests swept away, that become land that cannot be cultivated, that can no longer give life. This is our sin: exploiting the land and not letting her give us what she has inside, with our help through cultivation”.
He went on to mention a second challenge, that of balancing working time with time for the family. “This is a 'critical' point, one which enables us to discern and to evaluate the human quality of the economic system in which we find ourselves”, he said, adding that this is linked to the question of Sunday work, “which affects not only believers, but everyone, as an ethical choice”. He emphasised that “a Sunday free of work affirms that the priority is not economic, but rather human, based on relations not of a commercial nature but rather of family, friendship, with God for believers, and with the community. Perhaps the moment has come to ask ourselves if working on Sunday is a true freedom”.
“Today”, he continued, “I would like to add my voice to those of the many workers and businesspeople … who ask for a 'pact for work'”, and mentioned that in spite of the economic crisis, “many jobs could be recovered by means of a strategy agreed with the national authorities”. He also encouraged those present to follow the path indicated by such a pact and to “seize the opportunities offered by national and European provisions, which may bear fruits here as in other regions”.
He then quoted another key word mentioned by a worker – dignity – affirming that “not having a job is not simply a question of not having the means to live: no. We can eat every day, we can go to Caritas, we can go to an association, a club, we can go there and they will give us something to eat. But this is not the problem. The problem is not being able to bring bread to the table at home: this is a serious problem, this takes away our dignity. And the most serious problem is not hunger, even though the problem exists. The most serious problem is that of dignity. For this reason we must work and defend the dignity that work gives us”.
Francis then gave thanks for a gift that was presented to him, a painting representing maternity. “Maternity involves labour, but the labour of childbirth is orientated to life and is full of hope. So, not only do I thank you for this gift; I thank you even more for the testimony it represents: that of a labour full of hope”. The Pope then left the University by car and transferred to the old Romagnoli stadium where he celebrated Mass.