Monday, September 01, 2014

Bergoglio-Francis on Work: Interview: Labor Day 2014

“I’m so grateful to my father for making me work. The work I did was one of the bgest tings I’ve done in my life. In particular, in the laboratory I got to see the good and the bad of all human endeavor… I had an extraordinary boos there, Esther Balestrino de Careaga, a Paraguayan woman and communist sympathizer. Years later, during the last dictatorship, both her daughter and son-in-law were kidnapped; later she herself was abducted together with the missing Franciscan nuns, Alice Domon and Leonie Duquet, and murdered. She is now buried in the church of Santa Cruz. I loved her very much. I remember that when I handed her an analysis, she’ say, ‘Wow, you did that so fast.’ And then she’d ask, ‘But did you do the test or not?’ I would answer, ‘What for?’ If I’d done all the pervious tests, it would surely be more or less the same. No, you have to do things properly,’ she would chide me. IN short, she taught me the seriousness of hard work. Truly, I owe a huge amount to that great woman.”

                Over the course of your life as a priest, you must have encountered many unemployed people. What has your experience been?”

“Definitely, there have been many. They don’t feel like they really exist. No matter how much help they might have from their family or friends, they want to work, they want to earn their daily bread with the sweat from their won brow. The thing is, at the end of the day, work anoints a person with dignity. Dignity is not conferred by one’s ancestry, family life, or education. Dignity as such comes solely from work. We eat with what we earn; we support our families with what we earn. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little or a lot. If it’s more, all the better. We can own a fortune, but if we don’t work, our dignity plummets. A typical example is that of the immigrant who arrives with nothing, struggles, works hard,  and achieves the ‘American Dream.’ But they have to be careful, because their children or grandchildren might become spoiled if they are not instilled with a good work ethic. Because of that, immigrants do not tolerate lazy children or grandchildren: they make them work…. Work opens a door to realism, and in itself constitutes a clear mandate from God: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.’ That is to say, be masters of the earth: work….

                “What happens is that the unemployed, in their hours of solitude, feel miserable because they are not ‘earning their living.’ That’s why it’s very important that governments of all countries, through the relevant ministries and departments, cultivate a culture of work, not of charity. It’s true that in moments of crisis one must have recourse to aid to be rescued from an emergency like the Argentines experienced in 2001. But after that, they have to cultivate sources of work because, and I never tire of repeating this, work confers dignity.”[1]

[1] Pope Francis – His Life in His Own Words, Francesca Ambrogetti and Sergio Rubin, Putnam (2013) 14-18. 

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