.- Pope Benedict XVI has called attention to the problem of unemployment as a threat to the dignity of individuals and families, in a message to the bishops' conference of Ecuador.
“Through work man comes to see himself as a participant in God's plan of creation,” the Pope wrote in his letter to Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference President Archbishop Antonio A. Yarza.
“This is why unemployment or precarious work undermine man's dignity, creating not just situations of injustice and poverty which frequently degenerate into desperation, criminality and violence, but also crises of identity.”
Pope Benedict's message, released Nov. 10, addressed the South American bishops assembled for the second Ecuadorian National Family Congress meeting from Nov. 9-12.
But the warning about unemployment will likely resonate with many countries struggling economically or facing new crises.
October figures from the U.S. Department of Labor showed an jobless rate of 9 percent. In its most recent report, the European Commission found that unemployment in the European Union had risen slightly to 9.7 percent.
The Pope stated that “serious, effective and judicious measures” must be “taken on all sides … to ensure that everyone has access to dignified, stable and well paid employment.”
Through such work, those now unemployed “may seek sanctity and participate actively in the development of society, combining intense and responsible labor with adequate time for a rich, fruitful and harmonious family life.”
Pope Benedict noted that work makes a difference for families as well as individuals, in every area of life.
“Work and rest are particularly associated with the life of families,” he observed. “They affect the choices families make, influence relations between spouses and among parents and children, and affect the ties of families with society and with the Church.”
The Pope noted that workers need rest, not only for their own sake but for their families, friends, and God. He highlighted the importance of Sunday as a time both for rest and for worship.
Resting from work, Pope Benedict said, “makes our time more human, opening it to the encounter with God, with others and with nature.”
“For this reason families need to rediscover the genuine significance of rest, and especially of Sunday, the day of God and man.”
On this day, he said, “families experience the real presence of the risen Lord in the here and now, they receive new life, welcome the gift of the Spirit, increase their love for the Church, listen to the Divine Word, share the Eucharistic bread and open to fraternal love.”