The following is an excerpt from an address Pope Francis gave in April on the theology of work, idleness, and innovation:
Certainly, the person is not only formed by labour ... We must also think of a healthy culture of idleness, of knowing how to rest.
This is not laziness, it is a human need. When I ask a man or a woman with two or three children: “Tell me, do you play with your children? Do you allow yourself this ‘idleness’?” — “Well, you know, when I go to work they are still asleep, and when I return they are already in bed.” This is inhuman. Therefore, along with work there must also be the other culture, to continue to work, the work may also have a therapeutic function: at times one heals by working with others, along with others, for others.
It is a distorted and short-sighted society that compels the elderly to work too long and obliges an entire generation not to work when they should do so for themselves and for all. When the young are outside the world of work, businesses lack energy, enthusiasm, innovation, the joy of living, that are valuable common goods that improve economic life and public happiness.
I would like to emphasize two epochal challenges that today the trade unions movement must face and defeat if it is to continue to perform its essential role for the common good.
The first is prophecy, and regards the very nature itself of the union, its truest vocation. The union is an expression of the prophetic society. The union is born and reborn every time that, like the biblical prophets, it gives a voice to those who have none ...
But in our advanced capitalist societies, the union risks losing its prophetic nature, and becoming too similar to the institutions and powers that it should instead criticize. The union, with the passing of time, has ended up resembling politics, or rather, political parties, their language, their style.
The second challenge is innovation. Prophets are sentinels, who watch from their lookout. The union too must keep vigil over the walls of the city of work, like a watchman who guards and protects those who are inside the city of labour, but also guarding and protecting those who are outside the walls. The union does not carry out its essential function of social innovation if it watches over only those who are inside. Your vocation is also to protect those who do not yet have rights ...