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EMPHASIS ON PERSON NOT PROFIT TO OVERCOME UNEMPLOYMENT CRISIS

Letter of John Paul II to Faithful of Diocese of Rome

VATICAN CITY, DEC 7 (ZENIT).- "Justice and solidarity demand we face the

grave problem of unemployment and the inability to find a first job." This

is one of the burning issues in John Paul II's letter on work, directed in

particular to Romans, who are in the third phase of their "Urban Mission" in

preparation for the Jubilee of 2000.

This document, which the Pope referred to on November 30 when he proclaimed

the bull convoking the holy year, emphasizes that the dignity of the worker

requires "an adequate adaptation to professional responsibilities and family

obligations; the production of quality goods and services; justice in

compensation, and solidarity."

During the last eight years, Rome has been living through very difficult

times. The Italian political crisis has been felt especially in the capital

city, which depends to a great extent on political institutions. With the

exception of projects in preparation for the Jubilee, public structures in

Rome are virtually paralyzed since the beginning of the 90s. The Pope

described the situation as a "crisis in the job market coupled with new

forms of poverty which every day affects more families, the elderly, the

handicapped and immigrants. Simultaneously, important aspects of life, such

as public health, schools, homes, social services are going through hard

times, not entirely due to the economic order."

Work Must Emphasize Human Dimension

More than anything, Rome is undergoing a crisis of hope. "In the ebb and

flow of work, conditioned by the emphasis on efficiency and profit, the

complexities of economic activity are often turned into absolutes, in

detriment of the human dimension of work and the primary rights of the

person. It is precisely for these reasons that work is regarded as a burden

and a necessity for survival, as opposed to fulfillment of the person and of

the will of God," the Pope said.

In order to resolve these problems, the Holy Father appeals to all social

leaders -- public, private and religious --, to joint efforts so that "the

crisis of hope which seems to be paralyzing so many Romans will not become a

permanent situation." Specifically, he advocates a change which will

"promote a mentality of confidence and creativity."

Unions

"A correct approach in the workplace is an attitude of justice. To achieve

this, the labor unions and associations must have not only just compensation

as their objective, but respect for the rights and duties of persons and the

harmonious development of the relationship between the professional sector

and labor."

John Paul II invited the Christian community to be conscious of "its

spiritual and civil mission, of its human patrimony and culture of faith,

so that Rome will promote civil and economic development for the benefit of

the whole Italian nation and of the world."

The third phase of the mission of the city of Rome has as its objective the

evangelization of professional circles. With this in mind, the Holy Father

exhorted the faithful of the Roman archdiocese to "not be afraid to

introduce Christ to your colleagues or to hang a cross in the place where

you work and in your homes. It will be a reminder to everyone of the gift of

love of the Son of God who redeemed the world and rescued every aspect of

life and of work from sin."

John Paul II is not only head of the Catholic Church, but also Bishop of

the city of Rome, a responsibility he has exercised with great diligence

since the

beginning of his pontificate. Proof are his pastoral visits to virtually all

the parishes of the Eternal City in the last twenty years -- to date, 277.

Every week he meets with the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Camillo Ruini, and

analyzes pastoral strategies, the development of vocations to the priesthood

and consecrated life, the difficulties of Catholic schools, etc. The Pope,

himself, launched the mission of the citizenry of Rome three years ago,

which involves "missionaries" from Roman parishes visiting faithful in their

homes.

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