Pope Francis meets participants in an international conference on eradicating child labor at the Vatican’s Consistory Hall, Nov. 19, 2021. / Vatican Media.
Vatican City, Nov 19, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis said on Friday that the persistence of child labor in 21st-century economies is “shocking and disturbing.”
Addressing participants in an international conference on Nov. 19, the pope said that the coronavirus pandemic had worsened the plight of millions of children forced to work worldwide.
“It is shocking and disturbing that in today’s economies, whose productive activities rely on technological innovations, so much so that we talk about the ‘fourth industrial revolution,’ the employment of children in work activities persists in every part of the world,” he said.
“This endangers their health and their mental and physical well-being, and deprives them of the right to education and to live their childhood with joy and serenity. The pandemic has further aggravated the situation.”
It was the second time this month that the pope has highlighted the scourge. He called on Nov. 2 for renewed efforts to free children from “the brutal yoke of labor exploitation” in a message to a virtual forum hosted by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Child labor is the exploitation of children. It is the denial of their rights to health, education, harmonious growth, to play, to dream. It means robbing children of their future, and therefore, humanity itself.
In his latest address, he distinguished between child labor and “the small domestic tasks that children … perform as part of family life, to help parents, siblings, grandparents or other members of the community.”
“Child labor is something else entirely,” he said. “It is the exploitation of children in the production processes of the globalized economy for the profit and gain of others.”
“It is the denial of children’s rights to health, education and harmonious growth, including the possibility to play and dream. This is tragic.”
“A child who cannot dream, who cannot play, cannot grow up. It is robbing children of their future and therefore humanity itself. It is a violation of human dignity.”
The ILO estimates that 152 million children across the world are forced to work in exploitative conditions, although the global figure decreased by 38% between 2000 and 2016.
The FAO reports that 70% of child labor takes place in an agricultural setting, with 112 million children working in crop production, livestock, forestry, fisheries, or aquaculture.
“If we want to eradicate the scourge of child labor, we must work together to eradicate poverty, to correct the distortions in the current economic system, which centralizes wealth in the hands of a few,” the pope said.
“We must encourage states and business actors to create opportunities for decent work with fair wages that enable families to meet their needs without their children being forced to work.”
“We must combine our efforts to promote quality education that is free for all in every country, as well as a health system that is accessible to all without distinction.”
“All social actors are called upon to combat child labor and its causes. The participation in this conference of representatives of international organizations, civil society, business, and the Church is a sign of great hope.”
Pope Francis with Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in the Vatican, Nov. 10, 2017. / L’Osservatore Romano.
Vatican City, Nov 17, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis said on Wednesday that the justice and peace commissions of the world’s bishops’ conferences offer an “indispensable service.”
The pope told a meeting of justice and peace commissions on Nov. 17 that they performed the vital tasks of raising awareness of the Catholic Church’s social doctrine and defending human dignity.
“These commissions carry out an indispensable service in the context of the social pastoral care of the local Churches,” the pope said in his message to the two-day online conference hosted by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
“Indeed, they have the task of spreading and making known the Church’s social doctrine, working actively for the protection of the dignity of the human person and his rights, with a preferential option for the poor and the least.”
“In this way, they contribute to the growth of social, economic and ecological justice, and to the building of peace.”
Conference participants are reflecting on how justice and peace commissions can promote authentic development amid the coronavirus pandemic, drawing inspiration from Pope Francis’ 2015 environmental encyclicalLaudato si’ and his 2020 encyclicalFratelli tutti.
The pope recalled that in 1967, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI established the Pontifical Commission “Justitia et Pax,” which John Paul II renamed the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 1988.
The pope welcomed the justice and peace commissions’ focus on his two encyclicals during their Nov. 17-18 meeting.
“Indeed, in every part of the world, integral development, and therefore justice and peace, can be built only through these two paths: care for the common home and fraternity and social friendship,” he said.
“These two paths have their origin in the Gospel of Christ, but they are paths on which we can walk together with many men and women of other Christian confessions, of other religions and even without a specific religious affiliation.”
The pope acknowledged the challenges posed by COVID-19, conflict, and backsliding on human rights.
“The current crisis has revealed numerous contradictions in the economic and political system, while unresolved challenges persist that require the joint efforts of many actors,” he said.
“I urge you, therefore, to address these issues also in collaboration with other ecclesial and civil realities — local, regional, and international — committed to the promotion of justice and peace.”