Social Weeks of Italian Catholics
Saturday, September 9, 2017
“The future of a society depends on Catholics’ responsibility on the development of the common good.” It is the conclusion of the Instrumentum laboris for the 48th Social Weeks of Italian Catholics, released less than a month ahead of the event, “within a Synodal process aimed at understanding, finding solutions and presenting proposals” for veritable change, and “as a way to be near people in need.” Divided into eight chapters and 75 paragraphs, the Instrumentum laboris released today illustrates the motivations and goals of the 48th Social Week of Italian Catholics scheduled to take place next October 26-29 in Cagliari, titled, “The work we want: free, creative, participatory and solidarity-based.” The document drawn up by the Organizing Committee of the Social Weeks, coordinated by Msgr. Filippo Santoro, Archbishop of Taranto, incorporates the words of Pope Francis at n.192 of Evangelii Gaudium, representing the underlying theme of the event: “It is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labour that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives.” [Instrumentum Laboris Cagliari].
“Labour was and remains a fundamental human experience”, states the Instrumentum, with an invitation to not attempt to solve one’s problems “forgetting the faces and personal stories of the working population.” “Labour has dignity because the human person has dignity”, but for this to be true it should respect “human life and environment.” The document follows four guiding lines: to report, to listen, to collect good practices, to advance proposals. The purpose is “to develop a veritable change in our way of being and mode of action. It’s a conversion needed by the Italian society as a whole.”
“We will not gather in Cagliari to celebrate a beautiful conference – the organizers pointed out -. In fact, given the gravity of the present situation, it would sound out of key. The purpose of these days together is to mark a step in a synodal process aimed at understanding, finding solutions, advancing proposals. Coming together is a way to be near all those experiencing difficult situations.”
Thus the event is “a way to say that we don’t intend to forget anyone. Following the indications of Pope Francis, we are here to ‘generate processes’ that will engage Christian communities and the Italian society as a whole (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 223)”.
Young people without jobs, “too many precarious jobs”, illegal hiring, few and poorly paid jobs for women, inadequate education for entry into the job market, “unhealthy and dangerous working conditions.” These are the six critical aspects reported in the Instrumentum laboris that equally identified over 400 good practices to “learn from those who managed to win the challenge of creating economic value and good jobs.” These are signs that “there is always room for hope.”
“In order to respond to the labour crisis – to document goes on – it is necessary, above all, to strengthen the interconnection of education, vocational training and the job market, and ensure its effectiveness”, but it is equally necessary to remove the obstacles that “prevent the creation of new jobs.” The document highlights, inter alia, the importance of reducing the tax wedge and timeframes in civil justice. “Taking utmost undercutting of expense as the sole criteria is utterly myopic and it goes against the dignity of labour.” Finally, it is “fundamental” to develop a “strategy for the reintegration of increasing numbers of excluded and discarded people in our Country”.
The document devotes a chapter to the new lifestyles and job scenarios: robotization, crowd work, smartwork, with an invitation to envisage “new legislative solutions.” It is essential to see that Europe is still “stuck at a crossroads.” The documents signals three priorities: promoting tax harmonization, ushering in a new season of investments, endeavouring to achieve full employment. The horizon of the path laid out by the Instrumentum extends well beyond Cagliari because “on labour depends the future of society and it is a testing ground for Catholics’ responsibility in the development of the common good.”