July 21, 2014

CASTELPETROSO, ITALY – Youth unemployment is a defeat for humanity, Pope Francis said during a visit to the southern Italian region of Molise July 5.

"We cannot resign ourselves to losing a whole generation of young people who don't have the strong dignity of work," Pope Francis said during a meeting with the region's young people in the town of Castelpetroso.

"A generation without work is a future defeat for the country and for humanity," the pope told the young people.

The Italian national statistics bureau reported the Molise region's unemployment rate is 16.4 per cent, greater than the national average.

The situation is particularly bad for job seekers between the ages of 15 and 24, a full 50 per cent of whom cannot find jobs.

People can survive on charity and assistance, but "the problem is not being able to bring bread to the table and this takes away one's dignity."

Pope Francis called for a serious effort by national and local politicians, business leaders and workers to come up with some kind of "labour pact" that would create jobs.

Gabriele Maglieri, a 28-year-old farmer, told the pope about the importance of family farms in producing traditional Italian wines, olive oil, salami and cheese while protecting the soil, water resources and biodiversity.

The pope said he "fully shares what was said about the importance of safeguarding the earth so that it bears fruit without being exploited."