Construction workers at a worksite in the United States Construction workers at a worksite in the United States  (AFP or licensors)

Pope underscores "dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity" at ILO summit

At the 2023 World of Work Summit hosted by the UN International Labour Organization, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, delivers the Pope's message in which he encourages everyone to set out a new path that supports principles of human dignity, solidarity, and subsidiarity in the world of work, applying social justice to support the marginalized.

By Vatican News staff reporter

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, delivered Pope Francis' message for the 2023 World of Work Summit hosted by the United Nations International Labour Organization in Geneva. Experts from around the world are gathered for the two-day summmit from 14-15 June discussing the theme, "Social Just for All."

Speaking on Wednesday 14 June, Cardinal Parolin praised the launch of the "Global Coalition for Social Justice" announced at the meeting calling it a "laudable initiative" that resonates with what the Catholic Church encourages the faithful to undertake in being responsible citizens. He said "the Holy See remains committed to supporting any efforts to promote social justice, especially in the workplace, by making her means available to the international community and, above all, by sharing the social doctrine of the Church."

For the cause of peace

Recalling the many conflicts and instability today in our world, Cardinal Parolin in reading the Pope's message expressed hopes the Global Coalition for Social Justice might contribute to promoting the cause of peace, noting how the Catholic Church confirms that “commitment to justice must be closely linked with commitment to peace in the modern world.”

This vision of peace supported by social justice may seem utopian, the Pope acknowledged, especially for the millions in our world who are “frequently at the mercy of economic interests or indiscriminate exploitation,” unemployed or under-employed, and barely able to survive. He recalled the many, including migrant and refugee workers, who perform the occupations known as the 3Ds "dangerous, dirty and degrading," a reflection of how their human dignity is "relentlessly trampled upon."

The Pope in his message read by Cardinal Parolin noted that while the Church is fully aware it does not have the solutions for every issue, it "remains committed to continue proclaiming the Gospel of peace and to cooperate with all national and international authorities in safeguarding this immense universal good, the gift of peace nurtured by true social justice."

Setting out a new path

The challenges faced during the pandemic show how important it is to set out on a new path of solidarity, the Pope observed. Therefore it is crucial we keep "at the forefront of our hearts and minds" those living on the margins of the labour market when engaging in political discussions on social justice.

Also important here, he added, is involving the marginalized as active participants in arriving at a more secure peace within our societies, by finding ways social justice can help address the causes of poverty, such as: inequality, joblessness, lack of housing, or the denial of social and labour rights. This means looking beyond just the economic and social indicators.

Human dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity

The Pope emphasized that efforts to discern and apply social justice must rest on the three cornerstones of "human dignity, solidarity, and subsidiarity."

The respect for everyone's God-given human dignity calls for "the protection of the fundamental rights and well-being of all individuals, including their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs "from conception to natural death."

Solidarity emphasizes the interconnectedness and interdependence of all, he explained, describing it as "the fabric for authentic relationships" and a call to responsibility to "care for one another, particularly for those who are marginalized, vulnerable, or experiencing injustice." He added that we need to accompany and advocate "for those who face discrimination, poverty, violence, or injustice."

Finally, attention to subsidiarity can help guide the appropriate distribution of power and decision-making. Larger institutions or authorities can provide overall support when necessary, while locally individuals and communities have the freedom to make decisions that affect their lives, the Pope writes. This balance can avoid an over concentration of power and support empowerment and participation of individuals and communities to shape their own destiny.

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15 June 2023, 17:35