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Your vocation? Taking care of people in the future, says Pope 


Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 04/05/23

Pope Francis once again recalls the responsibility young and old generations have toward one another to build a better society.

“Social life is sustained thanks to solidarity-based community networks,” Pope Francis told employees of the Italian National Institute of Social Security (INPS) on April 3, 2023. The Pontiff called for dignified work opportunities and emphasized that young and old generations alike need to think about each other’s needs, in order to ensure a sustainable future society.

Social security “reminds us that everything is connected, everything, and […] we are interdependent on one another,” Francis said. “The common good passes through the daily work of millions of people who share the principle of the bond of solidarity between workers.”

Pope Francis cited Joseph in the Book of Genesis as an example of someone who “not only trusts in God’s providence and recognizes it” but also “shows foresight for the good of the people,” as he set aside grain in case of a famine. “This is your vocation: taking care of people in the future,” the Pope encouraged.

The INPS is the main entity of the Italian retirement system and guarantees social security benefits. The Pope met with the INPS’ employees on occasion of this institution turning 125 this year, as it was founded in 1898. He took the opportunity to remind of the responsibility different generations have towards one another, a theme which he has often touched on throughout his pontificate. 

Think about the future and the present

“Society seems to have lost its future horizon: It has settled on the present and what may happen to future generations is of little interest. ‘I do my part, then, they will get by…’: this will not do,” Pope Francis said in his speech. “Worrying signs in this regard are the ecological crisis and public debt, a burden that falls on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren.” 

The Pope in fact described examples of “good providence and bad providence.”

“Bad providence is that of those who think only of themselves, as we are reminded by the Gospel parable of the miser (cf. Lk 12:16-21), who has ever-larger storehouses built to contain his goods. […] Those who close themselves up in false securities have no future,” the Pope explained.

He instead points out that the “good providence” is represented in Joseph who takes care of his people. “He knows how to look ahead; he imagines good even when evil seems to prevail, he takes care of the people entrusted to him,” the Pope said.

The importance of generational interconnectedness

The Pontiff also highlighted how the Italian pension system creates a tight bond between generations, as present workers support those who are already retired and future generations will support the current one when it ages. This shows how “everything is connected” and “interdependent,” the Pope explained. 

He in fact also underlined, as he often does, the problem of the demographic winter in Italy: As there are fewer births, there will be fewer workers in the future to support older generations. Italy has the worst fertility rate in Europe and of the lowest in the world, with only 1.24 births per woman. However, Francis also said that “it is unjust to place irreversible and excessively onerous burdens on the young” to fix the future.

He in fact issued three appeals in his speech : “no to illegal work,” “no to abuse of precarious work,” and “yes to dignified work.”

By having proper jobs, young people will fulfill their own well-being and help build a society that supports the elderly and has opportunities for future generations. 

ElderlyPope FrancisVaticanYouth
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