(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the participants in a major pastoral initiative aimed at young people and sponsored by the Bishops Conference of Italy – the CEI – on Monday. The Progetto Policoro began twenty years ago as a program to help unemployed young people of southern Italy to develop skills, find work, and most importantly, nurture a healthy sense of dignity and self-worth by creating and developing ties to the larger ecclesial and social community.
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In the two decades since its founding through the work of don Mario Operti (a priest of the archdiocese of Turin), the Progetto Policoro has grown and spread through thirteen regions of Italy, and has sponsored hundreds of cooperatives, formation initiatives and small businesses.
In remarks to the Progetto Policoro on Monday, Pope Francis said, “Your task is not simply to help young people to find jobs: it is also a responsibility of evangelization, through the sanctifying value of work – not any work, though – not work that exploits, crushing, humiliating, mortifying [the worker], but the kind of work that makes a man truly free, work that accords with man’s noble dignity.”
The Holy Father concluded his remarks by entrusting the Progetto Policoro to the intercession of St. Joseph the Worker, and praying, “That the visage of God’s mercy, which illuminated the Holy Family entrusted to him, might shine on [their] path and show [them] the ways of creativity and hope.”