Address to Italian Artisans
Work: "A Means and Path of
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the
Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave March 31 to the
directors and members of an Italian association of artisans.
* * *
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE DIRECTORS AND
MEMBERS OF "CONFARTIGIANATO" AN ASSOCIATION OF ITALIAN ARTISANS
Paul VI Audience Hall
Saturday, 31 March 2007
I am particularly pleased with your visit and I address my
cordial greeting to each one of you. I greet in particular your
President, Mr Giorgio Natalino Guerrini, and thank him for his
courteous and profound words to me on behalf of all. I extend my
respectful thoughts to the other directors and members of your
Confederation, which is now more than 60 years old, years rich with
Confartigianato was founded in 1946 on the principle of
free enrolment open to every geographical, sectorial and cultural
member of entrepreneurial activity and small artisan businesses. There
is no doubt that it has helped to build the modern Italian Nation. It
has characterized certain important aspects of the Nation's development
in society and economics, art and culture, and has impressed its own
stylistic code upon Italian progress.
Indeed, if until a few decades ago, craftwork evoked
something "old-fashioned" and "picturesque", to be associated with the
image of the locksmith or the cobbler's workshop, today instead it
stands for autonomy, creativity and personalization in the production
of goods and services.
Dear friends, your presence offers me the opportunity to
reflect on an important aspect of human experience. I am referring to
the reality of work, which in this age is in the midst of tremendous
economic and social changes that are increasingly rapid and complex.
In the Bible, the authentic meaning of human work is
highlighted in various passages. To start with Genesis, we read that
the Creator made man in his image and likeness and invited him to
cultivate the earth (cf. Genesis 2:5-6).
Work is consequently inherent in man's original condition.
Unfortunately, because of our first parents' sin it became an effort
and a penalty (cf. Genesis 3:6-8), but in the divine plan its value has
And the Church, faithful to God's Word, does not cease to
recall the principle: "Work is "for man' and not man "for work'"
("Laborem Exercens," No. 6). Thus, she ceaselessly proclaims the
primacy of man over the work of his hands and recalls that it must all
be oriented to the true progress of the human person and the common
good: capital, science, technology, public resources and even private
This has been felicitously achieved in the craftwork
businesses you represent, which are inspired by the Gospel teachings
and the principles of the Church's social doctrine.
I would like here to recall what the Compendium of the
Social Doctrine of the Church says in this regard: "Work in small and
medium-sized businesses, the work of artisans and independent work can
represent an occasion to make the actual work experience more human,
both in terms of the possibility of establishing positive personal
relationships in smaller-sized communities and in terms of the
opportunities for greater initiative and industriousness" (No. 315).
Dear artisans, on the occasion of the Great Jubilee of the
Year 2000, my Predecessor John Paul II addressed some significant words
to you which have retained the same timeliness and urgency. Today, I
would like to present them once again to the whole of Confartigianato:
"You can give new strength and practical expression to those values
which have always marked your activity: quality, a spirit of
initiative, the promotion of artistic skills, freedom and cooperation,
the correct relationship between technology and the environment,
devotion to family, good neighbourly relations.
"In the past", he added, "the culture of crafts has
created great occasions for bringing people together and has bequeathed
wonderful syntheses of culture and faith to later generations"
(Teachings of John Paul II, 2000, vol. 1, p. 372).
Dear friends, continue with tenacity and perseverance to
preserve and put to good use the productive craft culture that can give
life to important opportunities for balanced financial progress and
encounters between men and peoples.
Furthermore, may you as Christians be committed to living
and testifying to the "Gospel of work", in the awareness that the Lord
calls all the baptized to holiness through their daily occupations.
Josemaría Escrivá, a Saint of our times,
notes in this
regard that since Christ who worked as a craftsman took it into his
hands, "work has become for us a redeemed and redemptive reality. Not
only is it the background of man's life, it is a means and path of
holiness. It is something to be sanctified and something which
sanctifies" (Christ Is Passing By, Homily, n. 47).
May the Virgin Mary, who lived in hardworking concealment,
and St Joseph, Patron of the Church and your special Protector, help
you in this task which becomes a precious service to evangelization. At
the school of the Family of Nazareth you can learn how to join more
easily a coherent life of faith with the efforts and difficulties of
work, personal profit and the commitment to solidarity for the needy.
As I renew to you the expression of my gratitude for your
visit, I assure you of a special remembrance in prayer for each one of
you and for your various activities, and I cordially bless you together
with your loved ones.
Papal Address to Italian
"Justice and Charity the Inseparable Aspects of Single Social
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Holy See's
translation of an address Benedict XVI gave to the Italian Christian
Executives (UCID) during an encounter March 4 in Paul VI Hall.
* * *
Dear Friends of the Christian Union of Business Executives,
I am pleased to welcome you and to address my cordial greeting to each
one of you. A special thought goes to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli who has
interpreted your common sentiments. I thank him for his address, and I
am also grateful to the president of the UCID for courteously
introducing our meeting and presenting the ideals and style of your
commitment, as individuals and as an association.
I am particularly impressed by your determination to aspire to an ethic
that goes beyond mere professional deontology -- even if, in the
current context, this would be quite something. It made me think of the
relationship between justice and charity, to which I dedicated a
specific reflection in the second part of the encyclical "Deus Caritas
Est" (Nos. 26-29).
Christians are called to seek justice always, but possess an inner
impulse to love that goes beyond justice itself. The journey of lay
Christians, from the mid-19th century to today, has brought them to the
awareness that charitable acts must not replace the commitment to
The Church's social doctrine and especially the action of so many
groups of Christian inspiration, such as yours, demonstrate the great
progress the ecclesial community has made in this area.
In recent times, also thanks to the magisterium and to the witness of
the Roman Pontiffs, and in particular, that of beloved Pope John Paul
II, it has become clearer to all of us that justice and charity are the
two inseparable aspects of the single social commitment of Christians.
It is incumbent on lay faithful in particular to work for a just order
in society, taking part in public life in the first person, cooperating
with other citizens and fulfilling their own responsibility (cf. "Deus
Caritas Est," No. 29).
In doing just this, they are motivated by "social charity" which makes
them attentive to people as individuals, to situations of greater
difficulty and loneliness, and to needs that are not only material (cf.
ibid., No. 28b).
Thanks to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, two years ago
the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church was published. It
is an especially useful instrument of formation for all who wish to be
guided by the Gospel in their work and professional activity.
I am sure that you too have made it the object of attentive
examination, and I hope that for each one of you and for the local
branches of the UCID it will become a constant reference point in
examining issues, working out projects and seeking solutions for the
complex problems of the world of work and of the economy.
Indeed, it is precisely in this sphere that you carry out an
indispensable part of your mission as lay Christians, and consequently,
part of the process of your sanctification.
I was also interested to see the "Charter of values" of the young
members of the UCID and I congratulate you on the positive spirit and
confidence in the human person that enlivens it. To each "I believe" it
adds an "I commit myself," thereby focusing on the coherence between
strong conviction and the consequent active effort.
In particular, I appreciated the resolution to value every person for
what he or she is and can give according to one's talents, avoiding
every form of exploitation; I also appreciated the recognition of the
importance of the family and of personal responsibility.
Unfortunately, partly because of current economic difficulties, these
values often run the risk of not being followed by those business
persons who lack a sound moral inspiration. Therefore, the contribution
of those who draw from their Christian formation is indispensable, and
thus should not be taken for granted but always nourished and renewed.
Dear friends, in a few days' time, we will be celebrating the solemnity
of St. Joseph, patron of workers. There is no doubt that throughout its
history your association has always had a veneration for St. Joseph.
For my part I, who bear his name, am pleased today to be able to point
him out to you not only as a heavenly protector and intercessor for
every worthwhile initiative, but first and foremost as one to whom you
can confide your prayer and your ordinary commitment, which are surely
marked both by satisfactions and disappointments in your daily life
and, I would say, tenacious search for God's justice in human affairs.
St. Joseph himself will help you put into practice Jesus' demanding
exhortation: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness" (cf.
May the Virgin Mary also always help you, together with the great
witnesses of social charity who have spread the Gospel of charity with
their teaching and action.
Lastly, may you be accompanied by the apostolic blessing, which I
cordially impart to you who are present here and gladly extend to all
the members and to your relatives.
Homily at Mass for All Workers
"Not to Be Enslaved by Work or Idolize It"
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Holy See
translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered March 19 in St.
Peter's Basilica, at a Mass celebrated for all workers. The Mass fell
on the Third Sunday of Lent but anticipated the next day's solemnity of
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have listened together to a famous and beautiful passage from the
Book of Exodus, in which the sacred author tells of God's presentation
of the Decalogue to Israel. One detail makes an immediate impression:
The announcement of the Ten Commandments is introduced by a significant
reference to the liberation of the People of Israel. The text says: "I
am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of
the house of bondage" (Exodus 20:2).
Thus, the Decalogue is intended as a confirmation of the freedom
gained. Indeed, at a closer look, the Commandments are the means that
the Lord gives us to protect our freedom, both from the internal
conditioning of passions and from the external abuse of those with evil
intentions. The "noes" of the Commandments are as many "yeses" to the
growth of true freedom.
There is a second dimension of the Decalogue that should also be
emphasized: By the Law which he gave through Moses, the Lord revealed
that he wanted to make a covenant with Israel. The Law, therefore, is a
gift more than an imposition. Rather than commanding what the human
being ought to do, its intention is to reveal to all the choice of God:
He takes the side of the Chosen People; he set them free from slavery
and surrounds them with his merciful goodness. The Decalogue is a proof
of his special love.
Today's liturgy offers us a second message: The Mosaic Law was totally
fulfilled in Jesus, who revealed God's wisdom and love through the
mystery of the Cross, "a stumbling block to Jews and an absurdity to
Gentiles; but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ is
the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1: 23-24).
The Gospel just proclaimed refers precisely to this: Jesus drove the
merchants and money-changers out of the temple. Through the verse of a
psalm: "Zeal for your house has consumed me" (cf. Psalm 68:10), the
Evangelist provides a key for the interpretation of this significant
episode. And Jesus was "consumed" by this "zeal" for the "house of
God," which was being used for purposes other than those for which it
To the amazement of everyone present, he responded to the request of
the religious leaders who demand evidence of his authority by saying:
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John
2:19). These are mysterious words that were incomprehensible at the
time; John, however, paraphrased them for his Christian readers,
saying: "Actually, he was talking about the temple of his body" (John
His enemies were to destroy that "temple," but after three days he
would rebuild it through the resurrection. The distressful "stumbling
block" of Christ's death was to be crowned by the triumph of his
In this Lenten season, while we are preparing to relive this central
event of our salvation in the Easter triduum, we are already looking at
the Crucified One, seeing in him the brightness of the Risen One.
Dear brothers and sisters, today's Eucharistic celebration, which
combines the commemoration of St. Joseph with meditation on the
liturgical texts of the Third Sunday of Lent, gives us the opportunity
to consider in the light of the paschal mystery another important
aspect of human life. I am referring to the reality of work, which
exists today in the midst of rapid and complex changes.
In many passages, the Bible shows that work is one of the original
conditions of the human being. When the Creator shaped man in his image
and likeness, he asked him to till the land (cf. Genesis 2:5-6). It was
because of the sin of our first parents that work became a burden and
an affliction (cf. Genesis 3:6-8), but in the divine plan it retains
its value, unaltered.
The Son of God, by making himself like us in all things, dedicated
himself for many years to manual activities, so that he was known as
"the carpenter's son" (cf. Matthew 13:55). The Church has always, but
especially in the last century, shown attention and concern for this
social context, as the many social interventions of the magisterium
testify and the action of many associations of Christian inspiration
show; some of them are gathered here today and represent the whole
world of workers.
I am pleased to welcome you, dear friends, and I address my cordial
greeting to each one of you. A special thought goes to Bishop Arrigo
Miglio of Ivrea and president of the Italian episcopal Commission for
Social Problems and Work, Justice and Peace, who has interpreted your
common sentiments and addressed courteous good wishes to me for my name
day. I am deeply grateful to him.
Work is of fundamental importance to the fulfillment of the human being
and to the development of society. Thus, it must always be organized
and carried out with full respect for human dignity and must always
serve the common good.
At the same time, it is indispensable that people not allow themselves
to be enslaved by work or idolize it, claiming to find in it the
ultimate and definitive meaning of life.
The invitation contained in the First Reading is appropriate in this
regard: "Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor
and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord,
your God" (Exodus 20:8-9). The sabbath is a holy day, that is, a day
consecrated to God on which man understands better the meaning of his
life and his work. It can therefore be said that the biblical teaching
on work is crowned by the commandment of rest.
The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church speaks opportunely
of this: "For man, bound as he is to the necessity of work, this rest
opens to the prospect of a fuller freedom, that of the eternal sabbath
(cf. Hebrews 4:9-10). Rest gives men and women the possibility to
remember and experience anew God's work from Creation to Redemption, in
order to recognize themselves as his work (cf. Ephesians 2:10), and to
give thanks for their lives and for their subsistence in him who is
their author" (No. 258).
Work must serve the true good of humanity, permitting "men as
individuals and as members of society to pursue and fulfill their total
vocation" ("Gaudium et Spes," No. 35). For this to happen, technical
and professional qualifications, although necessary, do not suffice;
nor does the creation of a just social order, attentive to the common
It is necessary to live a spirituality that helps believers to sanctify
themselves through their work, imitating St. Joseph, who had to provide
with his own hands for the daily needs of the Holy Family and whom,
consequently, the Church holds up as patron of workers. His witness
shows that man is the subject and protagonist of work.
I would like to entrust to St. Joseph those young people who are
finding integration into the working world difficult, the unemployed
and everyone who is suffering hardship due to the widespread employment
Together with Mary, his Spouse, may St. Joseph watch over all workers
and obtain serenity and peace for families and for the whole of
May Christians, looking at this great saint, learn to witness in every
working environment to the love of Christ, the source of true
solidarity and lasting peace. Amen!
Christian Workers' Associations
Misuse of Science and Technology "Can Seriously Threaten the Destiny of
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 24, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the
address Benedict XVI gave Jan. 27 to the Italian Christian Workers'
Associations, in an audience in the Clementine Hall.
* * *
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate
and in the Presbyterate,
Dear Members of the ACLI,
We are meeting today on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the
Italian Christian Workers' Associations. I greet President Luigi Bobba
and warmly thank him for his courteous words that truly touched me; I
greet the other leaders and each one of you. I offer a special greeting
to the bishops and priests who have accompanied you and who are
concerned with your spiritual formation.
The birth of your sodality is due to the farsighted intuition of Pope
Pius XII of venerable memory. He desired to form a visible and
effective presence of Italian Catholics in the world of work and
availed himself of the precious collaboration of Giovanni Battista
Montini, then substitute of the Secretariat of State.
Ten years later, on 1 May 1955, the same Pontiff established the feast
of St. Joseph the Worker to point out to all the world's workers the
way to personal sanctification through work, and thereby to restore the
perspective of authentic humanization to the drudgery of daily life.
Today too, the question of work, the focus of rapid and complex
changes, never ceases to call the human conscience into question and
requires that workers do not lose sight of the basic principle that
must guide every practical decision: the good of all human beings and
of the whole of society.
Within this basic fidelity to God's original plan, I would like here to
re-read briefly, with you and for you, the three "orders" or
"fidelities" which in the past you have been committed to embodying in
your multiform activity.
The first fidelity that the ACLI are called to live is fidelity to
workers. The person is the "measure of the dignity of work" (Compendium
of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 271). For this reason, the
magisterium has always recalled the human dimension of the activity of
work and has redirected it to its true aim, without forgetting that the
biblical teaching on work culminates in the commandment to rest. To
require, therefore, that Sunday should not be equated to all other days
of the week is a civilized decision.
Other priorities derive from the primacy of the ethical value of human
labor: of the person over work (cf. "Laborem Exercens," No. 12), of
work over capital (ibid.), of the universal destination of goods over
the right to possess private property (ibid., No. 14), in short, the
priority of being over having (ibid., No. 20).
This hierarchy of priorities shows clearly that the work environment is
fully part of the anthropological issue. Today, a new and unheard-of
implication of the social question connected with the protection of
life is emerging in this area. We live in a time in which science and
technology offer extraordinary possibilities for improving everyone's
existence. But a distorted use of this power can seriously and
irreparably threaten the destiny of life itself.
Thus, the teaching of beloved John Paul II, who asked us to see life as
the new frontier of the social question (cf. "Evangelium Vitae," No.
20), should be reasserted. The protection of life from its conception
until its natural end and wherever it is threatened, offended or
trampled upon, is the first duty in which an authentic ethic of
responsibility is expressed that should be consistently extended to all
other forms of poverty, injustice and exclusion.
The second "fidelity" I would like to recommend to you is -- in
conformity with the spirit of your Founding Fathers -- fidelity to
democracy, which alone can guarantee equality and rights to everyone.
Indeed, there is a sort of reciprocal dependence between democracy and
justice that impels everyone to work responsibly to safeguard each
person's rights, especially those of the weak and marginalized.
This being said, it should not be forgotten that the search for truth
is at the same time the condition for the possibility of a real and not
only apparent democracy: "As history demonstrates, a democracy without
values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism"
("Centesimus Annus," No. 46).
From here comes the invitation to work, to increase consensus around a
framework of shared references, for otherwise the appeal to democracy
risks becoming a mere procedural formality that perpetuates differences
and exacerbates problems.
The third task is fidelity to the Church. Only cordial and passionate
adherence to the journey of the Church will guarantee that necessary
identity which can make itself present in every social milieu of the
world without losing the savor and scent of the Gospel.
It is not by accident that John Paul II addressed these words to you on
1 May 1995: "The Gospel alone renews the ACLI"; they still mark out the
principal route for your association, since they encourage you to put
the Word of God at the center of your life and to see evangelization as
an integral part of your mission.
The presence, then, of priests as spiritual guides helps you make the
most of your relationship with the local Church and strengthens your
commitment to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.
As associated Christian lay people and workers, always take pains with
the formation of your members and leaders, with a view to the special
service to which you are called. As witnesses of the Gospel and weavers
of fraternal bonds, be present courageously in the crucial areas of
Dear friends, the main theme of your 60th anniversary celebration was
the reinterpretation of these historical "fidelities," doing justice to
the fourth task with which Venerable John Paul II urged you to "extend
the bounds of your social action" (Address to the ACLI, April 27, 2002;
L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, June 12, No. 4, p. 11).
May this commitment to the future of humanity always be enlivened by
Christian hope. In this way you too, as witnesses of the Risen Jesus,
Hope of the world, will help to impress new dynamism upon the great
tradition of the Italian Christian Workers' Associations and be able to
cooperate under the action of the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the
May God accompany you and the Blessed Virgin protect you, your families
and all your projects. I bless you with affection, as I assure you of
my special remembrance in prayer.