November 2017 witnessed a historic gathering at the Holy See in which the Church engaged labor union delegates from around the world in a dialogue about economic justice. The conference, From Populorum progressio to Laudato si’ — Work and Workers’ Movements at the Center of Integral, Sustainable and Fraternal Human Development, was hosted by Cardinal Peter Turkson, who heads the Vatican’s new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Pope Francis delivered a message to the participants honoring the assembled labor activists for their role in defending human values in a profit-driven global economy. And, as at the Italian trade union assembly this summer, he called on them to adopt a prophetic role in transforming society.
Trade unions and workers’ movements must by vocation be experts in solidarity. But to contribute to development in solidarity, I beg you to be on your guard…. It is necessary to invest in a solidarity that goes beyond the walls of your associations, that protects the rights of workers, but above all of those whose rights are not even recognized. “Syndicate” [“Sindicato” is Italian for labor union – CS] is a beautiful word that derives from the Greek dikein (to make justice) and syn (together). Please, make justice together, but in solidarity with all marginalized people.