Work Should Not Rule Man, Warns Pope -
He makes the remarks as he presides over Mass for workers
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 19, 2006 (Zenit.org) - Work is a means to an end, not an end in itself, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope made these comments today in the homily he delivered during a Mass he presided over dedicated to workers, held in St. Peter's Basilica.
The homily highlighted the feast of St. Joseph, patron of workers, which will be celebrated this year on Monday, since the usual feast day, March 19, coincides with a Sunday of Lent.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Holy Father's vicar for Rome and president of the Italian episcopal conference, concelebrated the Mass, as well as Bishop Giuseppe Betori, secretary-general of the Italian bishops' conference, and Bishop Arrigo Miglio, president of the Italian episcopal Commission for Social Problems and Work, Justice and Peace, along with some 100 priests.
Some 20 associations representing the labor world attended the Mass. The Pontiff addressed his greetings to them.
Benedict XVI said that "the reality of work," an "important aspect of human existence," is situated today "in the center of rapid and complex changes."
A part of life
However, the Pope wished to point out that the Bible shows that "work belongs to man's original condition," that it forms a part of the "divine plan"; likewise, the Son of God "dedicated himself for many years" to it.
"The Church has always shown, especially in the last century, attention and concern for this realm of society, as attested by the magisterium's numerous social interventions and the action of many associations of Christian inspiration," the Holy Father said. "Work is of primary importance for man's fulfillment and for the development of society."
Benedict XVI said that work must "always be organized and develop in full respect of human dignity and at the service of the common good."
"At the same time," he added, "it is indispensable that man not allow himself to be subjected to work, that he not idolize it, intending to find in it the ultimate and definitive meaning of life."
On this point, the Pope affirmed that "biblical teaching on work finds its coronation in the commandment to rest."
There is "a holy day, namely, consecrated to God, in which man understands better the meaning of his existence and also of his work activity," the Bishop of Rome said.
Work "must serve the true good of humanity, allowing 'man, as individual and member of society, to cultivate and fulfill his full vocation,'" the Pontiff said.
For this to be possible, the Holy Father stressed the need to live a spirituality "that will help believers to sanctify themselves through their work."
And they must do so, Benedict XVI added, "imitating St. Joseph, who every day had to provide for the needs of the Holy Family with his hands and who because of this the Church indicates as patron of workers."
"His testimony shows that man is subject and protagonist of work," he said.
The Pope proposed St. Joseph as a model, so that Christians may "learn to witness in all labor realms the love of Christ, source of true solidarity and stable peace."
Likewise, at the end of his homily the Pope wished to pray for young people "who have difficulty entering the world of work, the unemployed and those who suffer the inconveniences due to the widespread occupational crisis," and invoked the protection of Mary and Joseph over all workers and families.
In his homily, the Pope addressed a special greeting to Bishop Miglio, who earlier had thanked him for his magisterium on the topic of work.
In his intervention before Benedict XVI's homily, Bishop Miglio also mentioned Pope John Paul II, who "not only left us a rich teaching on work and the central role of the human person in the world of work," but also made himself a "tireless catechist of the social doctrine of the Church in the numerous pilgrimages of March 19."
He cited John Paul II's meeting with workers of industry, farming and various sectors, sharing their problems in prayer and in fraternal closeness, stated Vatican Radio.
Bishop Miglio thanked Benedict XVI for "wishing to continue this day the beautiful tradition followed by his predecessor," meeting with representatives of the labor world.