Pope Francis: “Work is an Asset For All, and Must Be Available to All”

Daniel Doherty

3/22/2014 9:00:00 AM - Daniel Doherty

How obvious is the tendency in the media to politicize Pope Francis and his pontificate? Is he, they endlessly wonder and debate, a conservative or a liberal? To ask this question, however, is to miss the point. The Bishop of Rome cannot be put into ideological boxes; he’s a “son of the Church,” and therefore will speak out on issues that affect his ministry, in ways that reflect traditional Catholic moral teachings, of course.

However, on many occasions, I think it’s fair to say, the Bishop of Rome expounds on subjects with great eloquence and in ways that will speak to American conservatives -- and we should listen. Most recently: the idea that work and dignity are interconnected, and indeed, inseparable. Work gives us an inherent identity, Pope Francis told an audience of manufacturers on Thursday, a sense of purpose. To lose the means of putting one's talents to use, then, is to lose a part of oneself. And the end result? Social exclusion and profound hopelessness (h/t Ed Morrissey):

“It is necessary to reaffirm that employment is necessary for society, for families and for individuals”, said the Pope. “Its primary value is the good of the human person, as it allows the individual to be fully realised as such, with his or her attitudes and intellectual, creative and manual capacities. Therefore, it follows that work has not only the economic objective of profit, but above all a purpose that regards man and his dignity. And if there is no work, this dignity is wounded! Indeed, the unemployed and underemployed risk being relegated to the margins of society, becoming victims of social exclusion”.

“What can we say, when faced with the very serious problem of unemployment that affects various European countries?”, he asked. “It is the consequence of an economic system that is no longer able to create work, because it has placed at its centre the idol of money. Therefore, the various political, social and economic actors are called upon to promote a different approach, based on justice and solidarity, to ensure the possibility of dignified work for all. Work is an asset for all, and must be available to all. Phases of serious difficulties and unemployment must be faced with the tools of creativity and solidarity. The creativity of courageous businesspeople and craftspeople, who look to the future with trust and hope. And solidarity between all the elements of society, who all give something up, adopting a more sober lifestyle, to help those in need”.

I wish Republicans would speak this eloquently when addressing the dignity of work, and the importance of uplifting the poor through solidarity and providing them opportunity. We might then be getting somewhere.

Read the rest of Pope Francis’ remarks here.