Pope Francis encouraged workers to turn to St. Joseph for guidance during the Covid-19 pandemic, during an audience at the Vatican on Saturday.
“[T]he crisis can be approached as an opportunity to grow together in solidarity and quality of work,” he said as he met with members of the Italian Association of Leather Chemists. “May the example and intercession of St. Joseph help you not to give in to discouragement, to make creative use of your talents and your great experience in order to move forward and open up new paths.”
Pope Francis expressed his closeness — and that of the Catholic Church — to workers during what he called a “very complex economic and social crisis.”
“Many men and women workers and families are living in difficult situations, aggravated by the pandemic,” he said. “But the pandemic cannot and must not become an alibi to justify omissions in justice or security.”
He recommended concrete action: to join “the wisdom of the elderly and the enthusiasm of the young.”
“I can imagine young people who are passionate about an original field such as yours, and they need to find ‘old hands in the field’ who have so much to teach, and not only on a technical level, but also on a human level,” he said. “For me, the challenge of this moment is the meeting between grandparents and grandchildren, bypassing parents perhaps, but that is a key meeting and we need to work for the young to meet the old.”
Pope Francis opened his remarks by acknowledging the young who were present.
“I like to see the mothers there, cuddling the children. It is nice when they come with the children,” he said. “If they want to walk, let them, let them do what they want; and if they are hungry, let them eat! They are the kings.”
The pontiff emphasized a more personal connection to the members.
“Your profession applies scientific and technical knowledge to a craft activity that has an ancient tradition, both in Italy and in other countries, including my own, Argentina,” he said. “When I was young, I studied in a technical institute with a chemical address, and this brings me a little closer to your category.”
Because of the members’ line of work, the pontiff also brought up the environment and the impact of using chemicals to treat materials.
“You too, then, are called to make your own specific contribution to the care of the common home; and you can do so precisely in the way you set up your own work,” he said. “For this purpose, being an association is very valuable, because you share your knowledge, experience, as well as legal and technical updates; and so you help each other to grow together in a style of social and ecological responsibility.”
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