Pope: Pandemic an opportunity to improve worker solidarity
By Devin Watkins
“The current crisis can be approached as an opportunity to grow together in solidarity and the quality of work.”
Pope Francis expressed that belief on Saturday during an audience with members of the Italian Leather Chemists Association.
The group represents scientists who draw on chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology to produce leather from raw cattle hide and sheepskins, a process also known as tanning.
Speaking to the Italian association, the Pope expressed his appreciation for the organization’s specific nature, which he said, offers an original contribution to the “great polyhedron of global society.”
“Your profession applies scientific and technical knowledge to an artisanal activity with an ancient tradition, both in Italy and in other countries, even my own, Argentina,” he said.
Pope Francis added that he studied in high school to become a chemical technician, “and this draws me a little to your own category of work.”
The Holy Father went on to acknowledge the myriad difficulties many sectors are dealing with during the Covid-19 pandemic, and renewed the Church’s concern for “the world of work.”
He also held up the example of St. Joseph as model of how to overcome difficulties while giving full value to each individual’s talents.
The Pope encouraged an intergenerational exchange of work experience and enthusiasm to fuel new innovation, calling it a challenge of the current crisis.
“It is important to favor an exchange of the wisdom of the elders and the enthusiasm of the young,” he said. “I think of young people who are passionate about a sector as original as your own, and need to find the “elders in the field” who have much to teach, not only on a technical level but also on a human one.”
Pope Francis then turned to the environmental impact of the leather production sector, a reality acknowledged by the Association’s president in his introductory speech.
The Pope said humanity consumes many products that use chemicals in their production without realizing their impact on the planet.
Associations, he added, are an excellent way to pool knowledge, experiences, and juridical and technical advances to “grow together in a social and ecological responsibility.”
In conclusion, Pope Francis thanked the Italian leather chemists for their visit and blessed them and their work.