Vatican City, 20 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall Pope Francis received in audience four hundred members of the National Federation of the Knights of the Order of Merit for Labour, which has for a hundred years been awarded to those who have distinguished themselves in the fields of business and economy for their contribution to the creation of work and the promotion of Italian products throughout the world.
“This work is more valuable than ever in an age like ours, in which the economic and financial crisis has been followed by severe stagnation and also a true recession, in a social context already marked by inequalities and unemployment, especially regarding young people. This latter constitutes a true social scourge, inasmuch as it deprives the young of an essential element for their realisation, and deprives the economy of the contribution of their vital strengths. The world of work should be awaiting young people, well-prepared and keen to make efforts and to emerge. Instead, the message that has often been received in these years is that there is no need for them. And this is the symptom of serious dysfunction, that cannot be attributed solely to causes at a global and international level”.
“The common good, which is the ultimate objective of living together, cannot be reached through a mere increase in earnings or production, but has as an indispensable precondition the active involvement of all the members of the social body. The social teaching of the Church continually recalls this fundamental criterion: that the human being is at the centre of development, and while men and women remain passive or at the margins, the common good cannot be considered to have been fully achieved. … Here is the social scope of work: the capacity for involved people and entrusting responsibility, so as to stimulate enterprise, creativity and effort. This has positive effects on the new generations and ensures that society begins to look ahead again, offering prospects and opportunities, and therefore hopes for the future”.
The Holy Father emphasised that this National Foundation has the commendable purpose of ensuring that its members highlight not only the social role of work but also its ethical scope. “Indeed, the economy contributes to the authentic development that does not marginalise peoples and individuals only when it is rooted in justice and respect for the law, when it keeps away from corruption and crime, and when it does not neglect to care for the environment. The practice of justice, as the Biblical texts wisely tell us, is not limited to abstention from iniquity or the observance of the laws (although this is already important!), but instead goes much further. The truly just, as well as respecting the rules, act with conscience and interest in the good of all, and not only for themselves. The just take to heart the fate of the less advantaged and the poorest, never tire of working, and are always ready to take new paths. We hope for the practice of justice in this full sense for every economic worker and all citizens”.