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More must be done for unemployed, says Pope

Pope Francis greets crowd in St Peter's Square (CNS)

Pope Francis marked the Feast of St Joseph the Worker on Wednesday by calling for greater efforts to combat unemployment.

Speaking to more than 70,000 people in St Peter’s Square during his weekly general audience, the Pope said that the problem of unemployment is “very often caused by a purely economic view of society, which seeks self-centred profit, outside the bounds of social justice.”

“I wish to extend an invitation to everyone to greater solidarity and to encourage those in public office to spare no effort to give new impetus to employment. This means caring for the dignity of the person,” he explained.

The Pope touched on the same theme earlier in the day during the homily at Mass before a congregation of unmarried teenage mothers and their children in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

In his homily, the Pope said unemployment “is a burden on our conscience” because when society is organised in such a way that it cannot offer people an opportunity to work, “there is something wrong with that society: It is not right. It goes against God himself, who wanted our dignity to begin with (work).”

The Pope recalled a recent “tragedy” in Bangladesh, where more than 400 garment workers were killed when the building they were working in collapsed. The workers reportedly earned just $38 a month.

“This is what you call slave labour,” he said. “We can no longer say what St Paul said, ‘Who will not work, should not eat,’ but we have to say, ‘He who does not work has lost his dignity’ because he cannot find any opportunities for work.”

During his general audience the Pope also made a special appeal against slave labour and human trafficking.

“How many people worldwide are victims of this type of slavery, in which the person is at the service of his or her work,” he said. “Work should offer a service to people so they may have dignity.”

The Pope also urged his listeners to remember the importance of prayer as the silent contemplation of Jesus and conversation with God.

The month of May, the Pope said, recalls the beauty of praying the rosary, which helps people keep Jesus “at the centre of our thoughts, our attention and our actions.”

“It would be wonderful if, especially this month of May, (the rosary) were recited together as a family, with friends, in parishes,” he added.

After greeting pilgrims from Poland, Pope Francis recalled the second anniversary of the May 1 beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II. He asked the Polish seminarians and teachers present that their lives “be permeated by the faith, charity and apostolic courage of John Paul II.”