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Pope travels to Molise, speaks on respect for creation, Sunday rest

Catholic World News - July 07, 2014

On July 5, Pope Francis made an apostolic journey to the southern Italian region of Molise and arrived by helicopter in Campobasso, a city of 50,000.

The visit to Molise was his fifth apostolic journey within Italy, following trips to Lampedusa (July 2013), Cagliari (September 22), Assisi (October 4), and Cassano all’Jonio (June 21).

Pope Francis began his visit by traveling to the University of Molise and addressing the world of industry and labor. In response to remarks made by the university rector and workers, the Pontiff spoke of the importance of work that respects creation, Sunday rest for the sake of family life, and the dignity of labor.

“This is one of the greatest challenges of our time: conversion to a development that respects creation,” the Pope said. “In America, my homeland, I see many forests, which have been stripped … land that cannot be cultivated, that cannot give life. This is our sin: we exploit the earth and do not let it give us what it harbors within, with the help of our cultivation.”

Pope Francis referred to Sunday rest as

critical, a point that allows us to discern, to assess the quality of the human economic system in which we find ourselves. And this also raises the issue of working Sundays, which affects not only believers, but it affects everyone, as an ethical choice. We are losing this free space! The question is what do we want to prioritize? A work-free Sunday-- with the exception of necessary services-– says that our priority is not economics, but the human being, gratuity, non-commercial relations, rather family and friends, for believers it means a relationship with God and with the community. Perhaps it is time to ask whether it is a true freedom to work on Sundays. Because the God of surprises and the God who breaks the mold, surprises and breaks the mold so that we may become freer: He is the God of freedom.

For the unemployed, said Pope Francis, dignity is a greater concern than hunger. “We can eat every day: we can go to Caritas, to this association or to that club, where they will give us something to eat,” he said. “But that's not the problem. The problem is not being able to bring the bread home: this is serious, and this robs people of dignity!”

“Motherhood involves labor, but the labor of childbirth is oriented to life, is full of hope,” he said as he thanked those present for the gift of a painting devoted to motherhood. “So not only thank you for this gift, but I thank you even more for the testimony which it contains: that of a hopeful labor.”

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