On Saturday, January 29, 2022, Pope Francis received in audience — in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace — the members of the Italian Association of Leather Chemists, and greeted them as follows:
Dear Friend, Good Morning and Welcome!
I like to see the mothers there, making over their children. It’s lovely when they come with children. If they want to walk, let them do whatever they want and, if they are hungry, let them eat! They are the kings.
I would like to thank the President for his kind words and for having presented briefly his work to me. I greet those present and all the members of the Italian Association of Leather Chemists.
I’m pleased to receive you for several reasons. In the great “polyhedron” of the global society, you offer an original and characteristic contribution. Your profession applies scientific and technical knowledge to a job that has an ancient tradition, both in Italy as well as in other countries, including my own, Argentina. When I was young, I studied in a chemistry technical institute, which brings me somewhat closer to your profession.
At this time of economic and social crisis, which is so complex, I take advantage also to express my closeness and that of the Church to the world of work. Many men and women workers and their families are living in difficult situations, aggravated by the pandemic. However, the pandemic must not become an alibi to justify omissions in the matter of justice and security. On the contrary, the crisis can be focused as an opportunity to grow together in solidarity and in the quality of work. May the example and intercession of Saint Joseph help you not to yield to discouragement, to use your talents and your great experience creatively to go forward and to open new paths. To do so, it’s very important to combine the wisdom of those that are older with the enthusiasm of young people. May they meet, that’s the secret! I can imagine passionate young people for a sector that is so original as yours is, who need to meet “veterans” who have much to teach, and not only at the technical level, but also at the human level. For me, the challenge at this time is the encounter between grandparents and grandchildren, obviating perhaps the parents, but it’s a key encounter and we must work so that young people meet with older people. It’s a challenge of this time
There is another aspect I want to touch upon with you because it’s a critical point and I know it’s important for you; your President also mentioned it. It’s about the environmental impact of the activities that, like yours, use chemical products to treat the materials, in your case the skins destined to become bags, shoes, etc. So many things we use daily and don’t think of the work that they entail! Hence, you are also called to make your specific contribution to the care of our common home; and you can do so, in fact, in the way you address your work. Your Association is very valuable for this, because knowledge and experience are shared, as well as legal and technical updates, and thus you help to grow together in a style of social and ecological responsibility. And this is very important. Today we are more aware of our ecological responsibility; we have grown in this, it’s a great thing.
Dear friends, thank you for this visit. I wish you all the best in your work and in the Association’s activities. I bless you and your families. And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. I need it. Thank you
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester