There is no worse “curse” than not being able to support one’s family through hard work, Pope Francis told Vatican employees Thursday, insisting that employment safeguards the dignity of the person.
“Work is your path of holiness, happiness and personal growth,” the Pope said in his annual Christmas meeting with Vatican workers and their families. “Today perhaps the ugliest curse that exists is not having work.”
People don’t want to live by charity and unemployment benefits, the Pope said, but prefer to be breadwinners who earn what they take home. “This is dignity,” he said.
“Work gives us dignity, and work security gives us dignity,” he said, whereas unemployment is “very ugly” because when people are laid off, “they lose their dignity.”
“This is a problem not only here in the Vatican, or in Italy or in Europe; it is a worldwide problem,” he said, a problem that “depends on many different factors.”
The Pope also said that he was working to end any “irregular work situations” in the Vatican, especially situations where employees are paid under the table without a proper work contract.
He said he was aware that some of the Vatican workers are in “precarious” situations, and has instructed the Cardinal in charge of administration to eliminate under-the-table agreements.
“One thing is a trial period,” Francis said, “but a trial of one or two years, no more.”
The Pope said he has also given instructions that no one be fired until he has found another job, unless he has chosen to go of his own volition.
“It is a matter of conscience for me, because we cannot teach the Church’s social doctrine and then do these things that aren’t right,” he said.
The Pope also told the Vatican employees that for him, the most important thing is family.
“The family: This is the great jewel, because God created us as a family,” he said.
“The image of God is marriage—man and woman, fruitful. ‘Multiply,’ have children, go ahead,” he said. “I was happy today when I saw so many children here. We are a family.”
Earlier this week, the Pope chastised nations that “have chosen sterility,” saying that they are responsible for bringing on a “demographic winter.”
“The devil wants sterility,” Francis said. “He wants each one of us not to live to give life to others, whether physical and spiritual, but to live for ourselves.”
“The devil is the one who makes the weeds of selfishness grow to keep us from being fruitful,” he added.
The Pope told his congregation in the chapel at his Saint Marta residence in the Vatican Tuesday that the very first commandment God gives to man is to “be fruitful and multiply.”
Fruitfulness in the Bible is always a blessing, he continued, because “where there is God, there is fruitfulness.”
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