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Monday, June 22, 2015

The Pope in Turin: meeting with the world of work

Vatican City, 21 June 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis today began his visit to Turin on the occasion of the extraordinary exposition of the Turin Shroud and the bicentenary of the birth of St. John Bosco. He was welcomed at the airport of the Piedmontese capital by the local religious and civil authorities following an hour-long flight from Rome, and then went on to meet with representatives from the world of work in the Piazzetta Reale.

“My visit to Turin begins with you”, he said to the thousands of people who had been awaiting him in the square since the early hours of the morning. “First of all, I would like to express my closeness to the young unemployed, to those in receipt of unemployment insurance, and those in precarious working conditions; and also to businesspeople, artisans and all those who work in various sectors, especially those who struggle to keep afloat”.

“Work is not necessary only for the economy, but also for the human person, and for his or her dignity and citizenship, and also for social inclusion”, emphasised the Holy Father, noting that Turin has historically been a pole of attraction for work, but is currently hard-hit by the crisis. “There is a lack of work and economic and social inequalities have increased; many people are poor and have problems with housing, health, education and other basic needs. Immigration increases competition, but migrants must not be blamed, as they are victims of iniquity, of this throwaway economy, and of wars. It makes us weep to see what is happening in these days, in which human beings are treated like commodities”.

The Pontiff reiterated that we must say “no” to a series of problems: to the throwaway economy “that expects us to resign ourselves to the exclusion of those who live in abject poverty. … Children are excluded, with a birthrate of 0%, the elderly are excluded, and now the young are excluded, with more than 40% unemployed. That which is not productive is excluded in a throwaway fashion”. We must say “no” to the idolatry of money, “which drives us to enter at all costs among those who, despite the crisis, become rich without caring about the many who are poor, often to the point of going hungry”. We must then say “no” to corruption, which is “so widespread that it seems to be a normal attitude and form of behaviour. But not merely in words, but also in actions. 'No' to collusion with the mafia, to fraud, to kickbacks, and so on”. Finally, “no” to the “iniquity that generates violence. Don Bosco teaches us that the best method is prevention: even social conflict can be prevented, and this must be done with justice”.

The Pope affirmed that, faced with this situation, “one cannot simply wait for recovery. Work is fundamental – it is declared from the beginning of the Italian Constitution – and it is necessary for society as a whole, in all its components, to collaborate so that there is work for all and that it is work worthy of man and woman. This requires an economic model that is not organised on the basis of capital and production but rather in the service of the common good. And, with regard to women, their rights must be forcefully protected; for women, who bear the greater burden in caring for the home, children and the elderly, are still discriminated against at work too”.

“Today I would like to add my voice to those of many workers and businesspeople in asking for a 'social and generational pact'. … Making data and resources available with a view to working together is a precondition for overcoming the current difficult situation and for building a new identity suitable for the times and the needs of the territory. The time has come to reactivate solidarity between generations, to recover trust between the young and adults. … And these are the main things I wanted to say to you. I add one word, which is not intended rhetorically: courage! This does not mean resignation, but rather, the contrary: be bold, be creative, be artisans of the future! For this I pray and I accompany you with my heart”.

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