Vatican City, 14 December 2015 (VIS) – Finding answers to the existential question of many young people who risk passing from a lack of employment to detachment from life in general is the aim of the Policoro Project undertaken twenty years ago in the ecclesial Convention of Palermo. This morning, in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, its members were received by the Holy Father who remarked that, in seeking to combine the Gospel with the reality of life, the Project represented an important initiative for the promotion of youth and a true opportunity for local development at national level. “Its key ideas have guided its success: the formation of the young, the establishment of cooperatives, the creation of mediation figures such as 'community animators' and a long series of concrete gestures, a visible sign of commitment throughout these twenty years of active presence”.
“With its concrete attention to the territory and the search for shared solutions, the Policoro Project has shown how the quality of 'free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labour that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives'. Let us not lose sight of the urgency of reaffirming this dignity! It belongs to each and every one of us. .. When there is no work, dignity is at risk, as unemployment not only prevents you from putting food on the table; it also makes you feel unworthy of earning a living. Today young people are victims of this. How many of them have given up looking for work, resigned to continual rejection or the indifference of a society that rewards only the usual privileged few – even if they are corrupt – and obstructs those who deserve affirmation. The reward seems to go to those who are sure of themselves, even if this security is gained through corruption. Work is not a gift to be kindly granted to the select few: it is a right for all!”
He added, “You represent without doubt a sign of real hope for many people who have not resigned themselves but have instead decided to commit themselves courageously to creating or improving their opportunities for work”, and he invited them to “continue to promote initiatives for participation for young people in a community and participatory form. … Here you can play your role. To the question, 'what has the Church to do with my situation?', that you have said and heard many times, the answer is 'witness'. And here you are able to provide your witness, face to face with those who are in need of courage and support”.
Francis concluded by emphasising that his task is not simply that of helping the young to find a job but rather “a responsibility of evangelisation through the sanctifying value of work. But not any form of work: not work that exploits, crushes, humiliates and abuses, but work that makes man truly free, in accordance with his noble dignity”.