06/21/2015, 00.00
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Pope in Turin calls for a "social and generational pact" to create jobs and boost hope

Pope Francis’ visit to the Shroud of Turin and Saint John Bosco’s homeland began with a meeting people from business and labour. In his address, the pope expressed solidarity with young people who are unemployed, and migrants “who are treated like packages”. He also called for joint action to help young people and seniors. The former are a “promise” for the future; seniors are “the memory of the past.” Together, they represent “the wealth of a nation”. The pontiff also said “no” to an economy of exclusion, the idolisation of money, corruption, and inequities that lead to violence. Instead, he called for a new economic model based on the "common good".

Turin (AsiaNews) – In view of today’s “serious and complex” crisis, economic recovery alone is not enough. What is needed is a “social and generational pact” to “jumpstart intergenerational solidarity, and boost confidence among youth and adults,” this according to Pope Francis who spoke before a crowd of tens of thousands in Turin’s Piazzetta Reale (Small Royal Square) in his first meeting with the city’s residents.

For the pontiff, who is in the capital of Italy’s Piedmont Region on a pilgrimage to the Shroud of Turin and the land where Saint John Bosco was born 200 years ago, the current situation “calls for opening actual lines of credit for new initiatives, helping in job creation, boosting apprenticeship programmes as well as synergies between business, vocational schools and universities."

A "generational pact" must also take place in the family, in relations among young people, children, and grandparents. Speaking impromptu, the pontiff said, “children are the promise of the future whilst seniors are the wealth of the past. We cannot overcome or come out of a crisis without young people, kids, children, and grandparents. They are the strength for the future, and the memory of the past to show us where to go. Children and grandparents are the wealth of a nation."

Before the pope spoke, three people – a businessman, a female factory worker and a farmer – talked about the importance of family and faith in facing current hardships (unemployment, economic crisis, injustice).

This was particularly significant when Filiberto Martinetti, owner of a textile plant that employs 200 people who refused to delocalise, spoke. “Frankly,” he said, “I could not imagine laying off the people who stood by my side for many years. This is why I chose to remain in Italy, going prevailing financial and economic wisdom." This sparked a standing ovation from the crowd, perhaps in an indirect indictment of the Fiat Automobile Company, once the heart and soul of Turin’s economy, which made the opposite choice.

In his address, Francis expressed first his closeness to "young people who are unemployed, getting workers’ benefits or working at odd jobs, but also business people, craftsmen and the workers in various sectors, particularly those least able to move forward."

"Working is not only necessary for the economy,” he said, but is crucial “for the human person, his dignity, citizenship and social inclusion."

For the pontiff, this includes migrants. “They,” he said, “should not be blamed, because they are victims of inequities, of this economy that excludes, of wars."

Speaking about the situation of many migrants who are currently turned away at the borders of France, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary, the Holy Father said, “The recent spectacle of migrants treated like packages makes you want to cry.” In order to avoid this, it is important to say:

  1. “No to an economy of exclusion, which comes to accept the exclusion of those living in absolute poverty. In Turin, this is about a tenth of the population. Children are excluded (none are born), seniors are excluded, and now young people are excluded (more than 40 per cent of young people are unemployed)! Hence, those who do not produce are 'disposable';
  2. “no to the idolatry of money, which drives people to try to join the few who, despite the crisis, grow rich, regardless of the many who are impoverished, going hungry sometimes;
  3. “no to corruption, which is so widespread that it seems to be a normal attitude and behaviour. However, this should be done in deeds, not words. No to any collusion with the mafia, to frauds, bribes, and things like that;
  4. “no to inequities that lead to violence. The best way is prevention. Social strife should be prevented, and this is done through justice.”

All this, Francis added, "requires an economic model that is organised for the common good, not solely for the needs of capital and production.”

“Speaking about women, their rights must be strongly protected, because women, who also bear the brunt of housework, children and seniors, are still discriminated, including in the workplace."

"Turin and its region have great potential for investment and job creation,” said the pope. “Helping is necessary but not enough; in order to rebuild confidence in the future, we need to be proactive."

“If I say, ‘You can do it,’ it is not for rhetorical purposes. It does not mean be patient, or give up. On the contrary, be daring and brave! Go ahead; be creative! Craft your future every day with the strength of the hope the Lord gives us,” for he “needs our work and never disappoints."

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