Pope: everyone must be given the ability to earn from their work, because this gives dignity
"What gives dignity is not bringing bread home. You can get it from Caritas — no, this doesn’t give you dignity. What gives you dignity is earning bread — and if we don’t give our people, our men and women, the ability to earn bread, that is a social injustice in that place."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "We must give everyone the possibility to earn" with their work, "because this gives you dignity." Reflections on St. Joseph and Jesus working hard gave Pope Francis the opportuntuy to ask at the general audience "what contribution, as Church, can we make so that it [work] is redeemed from the logic of mere profit and so it can be lived as a fundamental right and duty of the person, which expresses and nourishes his dignity."
In his address to the five thousand people present in the Paul VI Hall, Francis started from the memory of St. Joseph and Jesus intent on their work, whether it was "carpenter” or “joiner” was a generic qualification, indicating both woodworkers and craftsmen engaged in activities related to construction. It was quite a hard job, having to work with heavy materials such as wood, stone, and iron. From an economic point of view, it did not ensure great earnings, as can be deduced from the fact that Mary and Joseph, when they presented Jesus in the Temple, offered only a couple of turtledoves or pigeons (cf. Lk 2:24), as the Law prescribed for the poor (cf. Lv 12:8)."
"This biographical fact of Joseph and Jesus - he continued - makes me think of all the workers in the world, especially those who do gruelling work in mines and certain factories; those who are exploited through undocumented work; the victims of labour: we have seen a lot of this in Italy recently; the children who are forced to work and those who rummage among the trash in search of something useful to trade..."
"Let me repeat what I said: the hidden workers, the workers who do hard labour in mines and in certain factories: let's think of them. Let's think about them. Let's think about those who are exploited with undeclared work, who are paid in contraband, on the sly, without a pension, without anything. And if you don't work, you have no security. Undocumented work. And today there is a lot of undocumented work."
"[Let us think] of the victims of work, who suffer from work accidents. Of the children who are forced to work: this is terrible! A child at the age of play, who should be playing, forced to work like an adult! Children forced to work. And of those — poor people! — who rummage in the dumps to look for something useful to trade: they go to the dumps... All these are our brothers and sisters, who earn their living this way: they don't give them dignity! Let us think about this. And this is happening today, in the world, this is happening today."
"But I think too of those who are out of work. How many people go knocking on the doors of factories, of businesses [asking] “Is there anything to do?” — “No, there’s nothing, there’s nothing. [I think] of those who feel their dignity wounded because they cannot find this work. They return home: “And? Have you found something?” — “No, nothing… I went to Caritas and I brought bread. What gives dignity is not bringing bread home. You can get it from Caritas — no, this doesn’t give you dignity. What gives you dignity is earning bread — and if we don’t give our people, our men and women, the ability to earn bread, that is a social injustice in that place, in that nation, in that continent. The leaders must give everyone the possibility of earning bread, because this ability to earn gives them dignity. It is an unction of dignity, work. And this is important."
"Not enough consideration is given to the fact that work is an essential component of human life, and even of the path of sanctification. Work is not only a means of earning a living: it is also a place where we express ourselves, feel useful, and learn the great lesson of concreteness, which helps keep the spiritual life from becoming spiritualism. Unfortunately, however, labour is often a hostage to social injustice and, rather than being a means of humanization, it becomes an existential periphery. I often ask myself: With what spirit do we do our daily work? How do we deal with fatigue? Do we see our activity as linked only to our own destiny or also to the destiny of others? In fact, work is a way of expressing our personality, which is relational by its nature. And, too, work is a way to express our creativity: each one of us works in their own way, with their own style: the same work but with different styles."
"It is good to think about the fact that Jesus himself worked and had learned this craft from St Joseph. Today, we should ask ourselves what we can do to recover the value of work; and what contribution we can make, as the Church, so that work can be redeemed from the logic of mere profit and can be experienced as a fundamental right and duty of the person, which expresses and increases his or her dignity."
Finally, Francis wanted to recite the prayer that Paul VI raised to St. Joseph on May 1, 1969: "O Saint Joseph, Patron of the Church! you, who side by side with the Word made flesh,
worked each day to earn your bread, drawing from Him the strength to live and to toil; you who experienced the anxiety for the morrow, the bitterness of poverty, the uncertainty of work: you who today give the shining example, humble in the eyes of men but most exalted in the sight of God: protect workers in their hard daily lives, defending them from discouragement, from negative revolt, and from pleasure loving temptations; and keep peace in the world, that peace which alone can ensure the development of peoples
Francis also spoke of work in the greetings in the different languages. French: "Through the intercession of St. Joseph, may young people, unemployed fathers and mothers who live in precariousness and anguish for their families, find work to lead a dignified and serene life"; German: "Let us share our activities with the weak. It is of great importance for them and is a significant support for us as well. May the merciful God bless you and your families"; Portuguese: "With Jesus and St. Joseph we help our brothers and sisters to recover the value of work, so that we may all live together, with joyful conscience, our dignity as children of God"; Arabic: "Let us ask St. Joseph, Patron of the Church, who worked to ensure bread every day for the family of Nazareth, experiencing the bitterness of poverty and the precariousness of work, to protect workers in their hard daily existence, defending them from discouragement and exploitation, and to guard peace in the world, which alone can guarantee the development of peoples"; Italian: "May the figure of Saint Joseph, humble carpenter of Nazareth, guide us towards Christ, support those who work for good and intercede for those who have lost their jobs or cannot find them."