Pope Francis: People — not machines — are the value of work


Pope Francis speaks at the general audience on Aug. 23, 2023. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Aug 29, 2023 / 11:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis told a group of entrepreneurs this week that work’s greatest value comes from human beings, not from machines.

He also said businessmen and businesswomen can contribute to the common good through job creation, especially for young people.

“Today, an increasingly important way of participating in the common good is to create jobs, jobs for everyone, especially young people — trust young people: They need work, and you need them,” he said in the message delivered Aug. 28.

“Every new job created is shared wealth,” the pope said, “which does not end up in the banks to generate financial interest but is invested so that new people can work and make their lives more dignified.”

“Work is legitimately important,” he underlined. “For if it is true that work ennobles man, it is even truer that it is man who ennobles work. It is we, and not the machines, who are the true value of work.”

Francis’ message was read by Bishop Matthieu Rougé of the Diocese of Nanterre, France, on the first day of the Meeting of Entrepreneurs of France at the Paris Longchamp Racecourse Aug. 28–29.

Rougé also participated in part of the event’s program, a religious debate Aug. 28 on the topic of “the sacred and the profane: faith in the future.”

The debate included representatives from Islam and Judaism as well as a philosopher. Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, also participated.

Pope Francis noted that, like many people today, the business world is facing challenges such as the war in Ukraine and the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Entrepreneurs suffer when their business suffers, and they suffer a great deal when the business goes bankrupt and has to close,” he said.

“The Book of Job,” the pope added, “teaches us that misfortune is not synonymous with fault, because it also strikes the righteous, and that success is not immediately synonymous with virtue and goodness.”

“The Church understands the suffering of the good entrepreneur, she understands your suffering. She welcomes it, she accompanies you, she thanks you,” he underlined.

Pope Francis told entrepreneurs: “The first capital of your company is you: your heart, your virtues, your will to live, your justice.”

Human capital is worth more than economic and financial capital, he said, encouraging entrepreneurs to live their jobs like a vocation and “moral task.”

He also urged them to contribute their creativity to civil society.

“Without new entrepreneurs, our planet will not withstand the impact of capitalism. So far, you have done something, some of you have done a lot: But it is not enough. This is an urgent time, a very urgent time: We must, you must, do more. The children will thank you, and I with them,” Francis said.

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  1. Excellent supporting reading is St. John Paul II in his wide-ranging encyclical letter entitled “On Human Work” (Sept. 14, 1981; 66 pages). In the final lines:

    “In these present reflections devoted to human work we have tried to emphasize everything that seemed essential to it. Since it is through man’s labor that not only ‘the fruits of our activity’ but also ‘human dignity, brotherhood and freedom’ must increase on earth [citing Gaudium et Spes, n. 39]. Let the Christian who listens to the word of the living God, uniting work with prayer, know the place that his work has not only in earthly progress but also in the development of the Kingdom of God, to which we are all called through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the world of the Gospel.”

    Would like to read more from CNA about the reported: “…part of the [Meeting of Entrepreneurs’] program, a religious debate Aug. 28 on the topic of ‘the sacred and the profane: faith in the future’.”

  2. Doing dignity through work is a contribution in worldbuilding. Meaningful work offers dignity to the worker and to one’s work.

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