Unions should be prophetic voice for a new social compact, Pope says
June 28, 2017
Pope Francis said that trade unions should fulfill a prophetic role in society, in a June 28 meeting with members of the Confederation of Trade Unions in Italy.
“The union is an expression of the prophetic role of society,” the Pontiff said. He explained that a union should not be merely a political institution, but a representative of the true interests of workers in the cooperative work of production.
In his address the Pope stressed the importance of work as a fulfillment not only of economic needs but of a fundamental human impulse. “The person thrives in work,” the Pope said. He said that while it is inhumane to think of work without considering the person, it is also wrong to think of the person without work “because the person is fully realized when he or she becomes a worker.”
Work involves cooperation with others for a common purpose, the Holy Father continued, and for that reason a healthy enterprise should be recognized as “a form of civil love.” He quickly added that this is not anything like romantic love, but nevertheless genuine love “that makes the world live and carry on.”
Pope Francis said that current economic systems are unjust when they require elderly people to continue working or when they do not provide employment for young people. He called for “a new, human social compact, a new social pact for labor,” that would enable older people to reduce their work hours and open possibilities for the young.
Unions can be involved in bringing about this new approach, the Pope said. “The capitalism of our time does not understand the value of the trade union,” he said, “because it has forgotten the social nature of the economy, of the business.”
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