Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Lord, We Lack Work" – In Cagliari, Pope Goes for the "Gold"

Lord God, look down on us! Watch over this city, this island. Keep an eye on our families.

Lord, for you, work wasn't lacking, you were a carpenter and were happy.

Lord, we lack work.

Idols want to rob us of our dignity. Unjust systems seek to steal our hope.

Lord, do not let us be alone. Help us to help each other; help us forget a little of our selfishness and feel in our heart an "us," a people that wants to move ahead.

Lord Jesus, you who didn't lack for work, give us work and teach us to fight for work and bless us all in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Earlier today, the Pope delivered the preceding spontaneous prayer at a "Meeting with the world of work" – his first event of the day on touching down in Calgiari, the capital of Sardinia, for a daylong visit marked throughout by multiple strong papal condemnations of inequality and the consequences of the global economic system in light of significant unemployment on the island.

Intended principally as a pilgrimage to the isle's patroness, Our Lady of Bonaria – from whom Jorge Bergoglio's hometown of Buenos Aires takes its name – the Pope threw aside his prepared arrival text to castigate a world that he said had become "idolaters of this money god."

"This isn't just a problem for Sardinia – strong though it is here," Francis said, "nor is it a problem just for Italy or some countries of Europe, but it's the consequence of a worldwide choice, of an economic system that brings this tragedy to bear; an economic system that has at its center an idol, which calls itself money."

"Money rules! Cash commands!" Francis lamented, echoing a May address to diplomats on the same topic. "It rules over everything that serves him, this idol. And what happens? To defend this idol [man] piles everything in the middle and the edges [of life] fall away, the elderly fall away because in this world there's no place for them! ... And the young fall who can't find work and their dignity.

"But think of a world where the young – two generations of young – don't have work," he said. "This world has no future."

Handing his prepared text to the city's archbishop to be circulated in print, Francis explained going off-script by saying "I just preferred to say what was in my heart on seeing you all here." Prior to the talk, Francis was addressed by three workers: a factory laborer, an entrepreneur and a trade unionist.

As the Pope recalled, the visit – his second Italian stop outside Rome – was likewise his second to an island, following July's emotional outing to the refugee haven of Lampedusa off the Sicilian coast, where the toll of the modern global economy was also conspicuously front and center.

After an outdoor Mass at the Madonna's shrine, a visit to the cathedral to meet with representatives of the local poor and jobless, as well as a gathering with volunteer and charitable groups, the daylong trip wrapped up with an evening Q&A with young people.

Opening the cathedral encounter by saying that "no one here is better than anyone else," Francis proceeded to speak in strong terms against those who –
 noting that all in attendance "have seen this" – show "arrogance in the service of the poor" and "instrumentalize [i.e. exploit] the poor for personal interests of their own group.

"I know, this is human," the Pope said, "but it's not good! This is not of Jesus. And I will say even more: this is sin! It's a grave sin, because it's using the needy, those in need, who are the flesh of Christ, for my vanity. To use Jesus for my vanity: this is grave sin! It would be better if these people just stayed at home!"

"We cannot follow Jesus on the way of charity if we don't love those around us first of all. It's necessary to do the works of mercy with mercy! The works of charity with charity!"