Those who work in agriculture should consider the relationship between Creator, man, and nature, striving to operate on a paradigm of solidarity, not profit alone, Pope Francis said Tuesday.
Pope Francis made the comment in a message to Coldiretti, an Italian national confederation of cultivators, Dec. 15, during its end-of-year assembly.
Coldiretti is the largest association representing and assisting Italian agriculture. Its annual meeting was held online this year due to the ongoing health emergency.
The meeting is an event that “challenges every person of good will to rethink, even more today, the relationship between man, nature and the Creator as a factor of profound balance and communion,” the pope said, “in the search not for the logic of profit, but of service, not of the exploitation of resources, but of care and attention for nature as a welcoming home for all.”
In the message, which was signed by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Francis noted the theme of the association’s meeting: “Italy restarts with the heroes of food.”
The theme refers to the call to “restart” the economy after the national lockdown for the coronavirus this spring. Agriculture was one of the many sectors affected by the pandemic’s restrictions, in part because many of the seasonal migrant workers who assist with harvesting crops were unable to enter the country.
Demand was also affected, and in the first half of 2020, sale prices were down by more than 63%, affecting 70% of agriculture companies in northern Italy.
This is not the first time this year that the pope has made comments directed at the industry. At a general audience in May, he highlighted the plight of agricultural workers.
“On May 1, I received several messages about the world of work and its problems. I was particularly struck by that of the agricultural workers, among them many migrants, who work in the Italian countryside. Unfortunately, many are very harshly exploited,” he said May 6.
“It is true that the current crisis affects everyone, but people’s dignity must always be respected. That is why I add my voice to the appeal of these workers and of all exploited workers. May the crisis give us the opportunity to make the dignity of the person and of work the center of our concern.”
In his message to Coldiretti, Pope Francis encouraged those who work in the sector to look for new paths “in the way of charity and solidarity for a global and realer response to the phenomenon of poverty and inequality among peoples, especially in this crucial phase of world history.”
He also gave the association’s members and their families his apostolic blessing and wished them, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, “abundant heavenly gifts” and a peaceful and good Christmas.