By Robin Gomes
Italy’s Meritorious Workers are those over 50 who have been honoured by the state for their outstanding expertise, diligence, and moral conduct at the workplace.
Meeting them on the occasion of their national conference, the Pope said that work brings one the hope for a better future, and one cannot be happy without the possibility of contributing to the common good.
Society based on work
For this reason, the Pope said, a society that is not based on work, that does not promote it in practice, and cares little for the jobless, would be condemned to atrophy and to the multiplication of inequalities.
“On the contrary, a society which, in the spirit of subsidiary, seeks to put to good use the potential of every woman and every man, of every origin and age, will truly breathe with its full lungs.” The Holy Father said that such a society will be able to overcome the greatest obstacles, drawing on an almost inexhaustible human capital, and enabling everyone to become the creator of his or her own destiny, according to God's plan.
This divine project, the Pope said, is based on harmony between human beings and with other living beings and nature.
The Pope lamented the present condition where many are excluded from economic progress, crushed by violence and war, suffer because of environmental degradation or are oppressed because they are marginalized without any hope for the future.
The Pope urged that these brothers and sisters be not met with passivity or indifference by others and that their hope in life may be revived. The right to hope which many today have been denied of, the Pope said, is the first human right.
Noting that during the national conference members of the Federation of Meritorious Workers of Italy were discussing the theme of work in relation to Italy’s rich environmental, artistic and cultural heritage, the Pope encouraged them in the task of spreading, promoting and expanding the care of their “Beautiful Country”.
However, in doing so, he said, one must be inspired by the values of "correctness, responsibility and transparency", especially at the workplace. In fact, the Pope said, “renewing work in an ethical sense means renewing the whole of society by banning fraud and lies that poison the market, civil coexistence and the very life of people, especially the weakest.”
Only with the spirit of self-giving, only if love for our brothers and sisters burns within us like a "spiritual fuel" - which, unlike fossil fuels, does not run out but multiplies with use - will our witness be truly effective, and capable of setting our whole world on fire through charity, " the Pope said.