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For a new humanism of work

· The Pope denounces the tragedy of youth unemployment and calls for a fight against the lawlessness that leads to corruption ·

We must “form, educate [others] in a new humanism of work, where man, and not profit, is at the centre; where the economy serves man rather than being served by man”. The Pope expressed this hope on Saturday morning, 16 January, in the Paul VI Hall, where he received in audience members and leaders of the Christian Workers Movement.

In his address the Pontiff expanded on the observation that “we live in a time when workers are being exploited”, in which “work is not really at the service of personal dignity, but is slave labour”. He offered a reflection articulated upon three terms: education, sharing and witness.

With regard to the first term, the Holy Father explained that it is not a mater only of “teaching some technical skill or imparting ideas, but about rendering both ourselves and the world around us more human”. In addition, education helps others “not to believe in the deception of those who would like to convince them that work, one’s daily effort, the gift of oneself and one’s study do not have value”. He went on to say that “it is essential to educate and follow the luminous and demanding path of honesty, avoiding the shortcuts of favouritism and recommendations”, which conceal corruption. It amounts to “moral commerce” and “must be rejected” he emphasized. “Otherwise it creates a false and noxious mentality which must be fought: that of lawlessness, which leads to the corruption of people and of society”. After all he added with an evocative image, “lawlessness is like an octopus in hiding: it is concealed, submerged, but with its tentacles it seizes and poisons, polluting and doing so much harm”.

With regard to sharing, Francis recalled that work offers “the opportunity to enter into relationships with others”. As a result, it “should unite people, not separate them”. Last, he spoke of witness, pointing out that today “there are people who would like to work, but cannot, and struggle even to eat”. They truly are “the new excluded ones of our time”. Work is especially important, he stated, because “ a young person without work” winds up “in addiction, in psychological illness, in suicide”.

Thus, Francis appealed for “access to work for everyone”. And, he noted, “in facing people in difficulty and challenging situations — I think also of the young for whom getting married and having children is an issue, because they do not have a stable enough job or a house — preaching does not help”. Instead, he concluded, it is “important to pass on hope, to comfort through presence, to support with real help”.

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