Pope Francis this week called for support for workers who are most affected by the global health crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
In his message on Thursday to mark the 109th anniversary of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the pontiff stressed the “urgent need” for economic reforms and protection of all workers.
The pope warned against “excessive fixations on benefit, isolation and nationalism, (and) blind consumerism” when returning to greater economic activity after the pandemic.
He said cautioned against the “denial of the clear evidence of discrimination against our ‘dispensable’ brothers and sisters in our society.”
Pope Francis made the statement in a video message he sent to the ILO’s World of Work Summit on June 17.
“Let us look for solutions that will help us build a new future of work based on decent and dignified working conditions, originating in collective negotiation, and promoting the common good, a phrase that will make work an essential component of our care for society and Creation,” said the pontiff.
He warned against an “elitist dynamic” that discards others and sacrifices “those who have been left behind, on the so-called ‘altar of progress.’”
“Faced with the Agenda of the International Labor Organization, we must continue as we did in 1931, when Pope Pius XI, after the Wall Street crisis and in the midst of the ‘Great Depression,’ denounced the asymmetry between workers and entrepreneurs as a flagrant injustice that gave carte blanche and means to capital,” the pope said.
He called for the expansion of social protection systems to ensure access to health services, food, and basic human needs.
He said that the lack of social protection during the pandemic resulted in increased poverty, unemployment, and an increase in illegal work.
“We are called upon to prioritize our response to workers on the margins of the labor market who are still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: low-skilled workers, day laborers, those who work illegally, migrant and refugee workers, those who carry out what is commonly referred to as … dangerous, dirty and degrading,” he said.
“As we seek to shape our future action and shape a post-COVID-19 international agenda, we should pay particular attention to the very real danger of forgetting those who have been left behind,” said Pope Francis.
He said the poor “run the risk of being attacked by a virus even worse than COVID-19: that of selfish indifference.”