Vatican City, 16 January 2016 (VIS) – Education, sharing and witness were the three words that the Pope suggested to the members of the Christian Workers' Movement for living the vocation of work, a vocation that "calls us to imitate actively the tireless work of the Father and of Jesus Who, as the Gospel tells us, are always working".
In the Paul VI Hall Francis spoke to seven thousand members of the organisation about the importance of education which "is not solely about teaching various techniques or imparting ideas, but rather making ourselves and the reality that surrounds us more human. And this applies in a special way to work: it is necessary to teach a new 'humanism of work'. We live in a time of exploitation of workers, in a time in which work is not at the service of the dignity of the person, but is instead slave labour. We must instruct and educate in a new humanism of work, in which mankind, and not profit, is at the centre; in which the economy does not exploit but instead serves man".
Education is fundamental in helping us "not to be deceived into thinking that work, our daily effort, the gift of oneself and study do not have any value. I would add that nowadays, in the world of work – as in every environment – it is urgent to educate in following the luminous and demanding road of honesty, shunning the short cuts of favouritism and influential connections. These temptations, great and small, are always present, but they must always be seen as moral bargains unworthy of man: they are to be rejected, so that the heart is accustomed to staying free. Otherwise, they generate a false and harmful mentality, which must be combated: that of illegality, which leads to the corruption of the person and of society. Illegality is like an unseen octopus, hidden and submerged but which grabs and poisons with its tentacles, contaminating and causing great harm".
With regard to sharing, the Pope remarked that work is not merely an individual vocation, but rather an opportunity to enter into relations with others. "Work should unite people, not distance them from each other or cause them to be closed and distant. … It offers the chance to share daily life, to be interested in those near us, to receive as a gift and as a responsibility the presence of others".
Referring to the "Civil Service projects", an initiative of the Movement which enables it to bring people and new contexts together and occupy itself with their problems and hopes, he emphasised that others should not simply receive passing attention but should instead be the focus of genuine projects. "Everyone makes plans for himself, but planning for others allows us to take a step further: to place intelligence at the service of love, making the person more complete and life happier, through the capacity to give".
Finally, witness. "The apostle Paul encouraged the witness of faith through activity, conquering laziness and indolence, and he set out a very strong and clear rule: 'If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat'. In that time too there were those who made others work so that they themselves could eat. Today, instead, there are people who would like to work but they are not able to, and struggle even to eat. You encounter many young people who do not work; they are truly, as you have said, the new excluded people of our time. Just think that in some countries in Europe, this cultured Europe of ours, youth unemployment reaches 40 per cent, 47 per cent in other countries, 50 per cent in others. But what can a young person do without working? Where does he or she end up? As a victim of addiction, psychological illness, suicide. The statistics of suicide among the young are not always published. It is a tragedy, a tragedy of the excluded people of our time, who are deprived of their dignity. Human justice requires access to work for all. Even divine mercy calls to us: faced with people in difficulty and in situations of hardship – I think of young people for whom getting married or having children is a problem, as they do not have a sufficiently stable job or a house – it is not helpful to give sermons. Instead it is necessary to transmit hope, comfort with presence, and support with concrete assistance".