The pope said it was a social injustice when men and women were unable to earn money to feed their families, stressing that labor is connected to human dignity.
He explained that work was not only a way of earning a living, but also “an essential component of human life, and even of the path of sanctification.”
“Unfortunately, however, labor is often a hostage to social injustice and, rather than being a means of humanization, it becomes an existential periphery. I often ask myself: With what spirit do we do our daily work? How do we deal with fatigue? Do we see our activity as linked only to our own destiny or also to the destiny of others?” he asked.
He added: “It is good to think about the fact that Jesus himself worked and had learned this craft from St. Joseph. Today, we should ask ourselves what we can do to recover the value of work; and what contribution we can make, as the Church, so that work can be redeemed from the logic of mere profit and can be experienced as a fundamental right and duty of the person, which expresses and increases his or her dignity.”
After the address, a precis of the pope’s catechesis was read out in seven languages. After each summary, he greeted members of each language group.
He said: “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you!”
The audience concluded with the recitation of the Our Father and the Apostolic Blessing.
The pope ended his address by reciting a prayer offered by his predecessor Paul VI on May 1, 1969:
O St. Joseph,
Patron of the Church!
You, who side by side with the Word made flesh,
worked each day to earn your bread,
drawing from Him the strength to live and to toil;
you who experienced the anxiety for the morrow,
the bitterness of poverty, the uncertainty of work:
you who today give the shining example,
humble in the eyes of men
but most exalted in the sight of God:
protect workers in their hard daily lives,
defending them from discouragement,
from negative revolt,
and from pleasure-loving temptations;
and keep peace in the world,
that peace which alone can ensure the development of peoples