Pope says labor unions important in resolving financial crisis
By John Thavis
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said labor unions have an important role to play in finding a way out of the global financial crisis and establishing a new culture of solidarity and responsibility in the marketplace.
"The great challenge and the great opportunity posed by today's worrisome economic crisis is to find a new synthesis between the common good and the market, between capital and labor. And in this regard, union organizations can make a significant contribution," the pope told directors of the Confederation of Italian Labor Unions Jan. 31.
The pope emphasized that the inalienable dignity of the worker has been a cornerstone of the church's social teaching in the modern age, and said this teaching has helped the movement toward fair wages, improvement of working conditions and protection of vulnerable categories of employees.
Workers are facing particular risks in the current economic crisis, and unions must be part of the solution, he said.
"In order to overcome the economic and social crisis we're experiencing, we know that a free and responsible effort on the part of everyone is required," the pope said.
"In other words, it is necessary to overcome the interests of particular groups and sectors, in order to face together and in a united way the problems that are affecting every area of society, especially the world of labor," he said.
"Never has this need been felt so urgently. The problems tormenting the world of labor push toward an effective and closer arrangement between the many and diverse components of society," he said.
He noted that his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had underlined labor as the key component in social questions and had described the labor union as an indispensable element of social life in modern industrialized societies.
Pope Benedict has been working on his first social encyclical, tentatively titled "Caritas in Veritate" ("Love in Truth"), which is expected to be published sometime this year.