Pope Francis meeting executives and employees of the Italian National Institute of Social Security (INPS) Pope Francis meeting executives and employees of the Italian National Institute of Social Security (INPS)  (Vatican Media)

Pope: Social security must be fair and sustainable for future generations

Pope Francis receives in audience executives and employees of the Italian National Institute of Social Security (INPS), turning 125 this year, and calls for sustainable social security policies for the sake of the new generations and those to come, while decrying the “demographic winter” in Italy.

By Lisa Zengarini

Pope Francis has urged Italian policymakers to make social security economically and socially sustainable, keeping in mind the common good of present and future generations.

He did so when addressing 400 executives and employees of the Italian National Institute of Social Security (INPS) in the Vatican on Monday.

“We need wise politicians, guided by the criterion of fraternity”, who avoid “wasting resources when available and leaving future generations in serious difficulty”, he said.

Everything is connected: keeping in mind future generations

Pope Francis noted that social security is an increasingly “topical issue” today, as the economic and social aspects of demographic ageing become more significant, while society seems to have “lost its horizon”, with no concern for the future.

“Worrying signs in this sense”, he said “are the ecological crisis and the national debt that are being placed on the shoulders of children and grandchildren”.

“Sustainability, instead, responds to the principle that it is unfair to impose irreversible and too heavy burdens on young people”, said the Pope, remarking that social security is a form of welfare that keeps the “different generations together.”

“I see children here, and the expression of an almost 60-year-old man comes to mind, who in the face of the Italian demographic winter says: ‘But who will pay my pension?’ It won't be the little dogs that people have instead of children."”

Recalling that foreign workers who don’t yet have Italian citizenship also contribute to the Italian pension system, Pope Francis remarked that the public social security reminds us that "everything is connected" and that we are interdependent,

No to undeclared and precarious work 

Pope Francis continued by stressing that to allow the Italian public social security to stand up to the challenges of an ever-ageing society,  three issues  need to be urgently addressed: undeclared work, which “exposes workers to forms of exploitation and injustice”: the abuse of precarious work, which causes young people to postpone marriage and family-building contributing to the ongoing decline in birth-rates in Italy, and, finally, the need to promote a decent work, which is always "free, creative, participatory and supportive."

“Retirement is a form of participation in one's own well-being and that of others. Setting aside economic resources and guaranteeing access to health care are precious assets that know how to keep the different seasons of life together.”

Recalling the Bible examples of bad and good foresight represented by the Rich Fool of the Gospel parable, and by the biblical patriarch Joseph, Pope Francis highlighted the need for “wise politicians”, who “guided by the criterion of fraternity” don’t waste resources in seasons of abundance and burden future generations.

Economic and social sustainability

While thanking the INPS employees for their work supporting workers and providing  assistance to the unemployed, the sick, the injured and elderly, Pope Francis concluded  by encouraging policymakers to foster “the culture of the common good, of social security and sustainability which,” he said “in order to be economic must also be social.”

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03 April 2023, 13:08