Genoa, Italy: Pope Francis highlighted the struggles workers face in a globalising economy with a visit on Saturday to a troubled steel factory in Genoa, where he stressed the importance of work in giving people a sense of human dignity and denounced those who exploit workers.
The visit puts a focus on the plight of workers whose lives have been made precarious by years of economic crisis, including in Italy where a high jobless rate, especially among young adults, drives many to leave the country.
Speaking to some 3,500 industrial workers, many in factory uniforms or hard hats, Francis distinguished what he called the “real entrepreneur,” a person who “shares the labours of workers and shares the joys of work” to create something together, and speculators who are not bothered when they fire workers in a search for profit.
“One sickness of the economy is the gradual transformation of entrepreneurs into speculators,” the pontiff said.
“The speculator doesn’t love his business, doesn’t love the workers, but only sees the business and workers as the means to make profit.”
He decried a political system that “sometimes seems to encourage” speculators, “not those who invest and believe in work.”
He also denounced those who claim that workers do their jobs only for the money, saying that “denies the dignity of work.”
Francis, an Argentine whose parents left Italy in the early 20th century, also referred to his personal feelings aroused by visiting the port city, the departure point in the past for Italians seeking new lives in North and South America.
“It’s the first time I come to Genoa, and being so close to the port reminds me of where my father departed from,” he said. “This gives me a great emotion.”
After the visit at the factory, Francis held separate meetings with clergy at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and later with young people in a different church.
Later the pontiff also planned to meet with poor and homeless people as well as refugees and prisoners. He will also visit a paediatric hospital.