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Labor important for the dignity of the human person, Pope tells steelworkers

Pope Francis yesterday told a special audience of steelworkers from an industrial part of Umbria in Italy that human labor is important in upholding human dignity and that there is dignity in work itself. “Labor is an essential reality for society, for families and for individuals. Labor, in fact, directly regards the person, his life, his liberty and his happiness,” the Holy Father reflected. “The primary value of labor is the good of the human person, as it allows the person to be fully realized as such, with his attitudes and intellectual, creative and manual capacities. Therefore, it follows that labor has not only the economic objective of profit, but above all a purpose that regards man and his dignity.” The Pope bluntly said "the dignity of man is connected to labor.

Pope Francis recently reminded an audience of Italian steelworkers of the dignity of human labor.
Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

The Pope said that because of this reality, those who lack employment or are chronically underemployed also lack a basic element of human dignity, because work is more than about a livelihood or the means to live “but above all a purpose that affects man and his dignity. And if there is no work, this dignity is wounded! Anyone who is unemployed or underemployed risks, in fact, being placed on the margins of society, becoming a victim of social exclusion. Many times it happens that people out of work - I think especially of the many unemployed young people today - slip into chronic discouragement or worse, apathy,” Vatican Radio reported the Pope as saying.

Pope Francis again condemned, as he has done repeatedly in recent weeks, those who would make what he called an "idol" out of money or personal gain, saying that present economic realities encourage such idolatry. “Solidarity is important, but this system is not so fond of it, preferring to exclude it. This human solidarity which assures all the possibility of dignified labor. Labor is a good for all, and must be available to all,” the Pontiff reflected. Pope Francis called on all of those in society, regardless of their station, to act in solidarity with the unemployed, underemployed, marginalized, and working poor by adopting what he called "a more sober lifestyle."

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