By Sarah Mac Donald - 20 May, 2016
Employers who exploit their workers in order to enrich themselves have been compared to leeches by Pope Francis.
In his homily at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, the Pope denounced the exploitation of labour as a mortal sin stressing that exploiting workers to enrich oneself is like sucking blood.
Pope Francis recalled how a young woman told him about having found a job, working 11 hours a day for €650 a month, under the table.
The employers told her, “If that’s ok with you, take it; if not, get lost. There’s nothing else! There’s a line of people waiting to take the job.”
These rich people, the Pope chided, “grow fat on their riches”—but the Apostle warns “You have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter.”
“The blood of all these people that you have sucked,” and on which “you have lived, is a cry to the Lord, it is a cry of justice. The exploitation of the people,” the Pope said.
We might think, he continued, that slaves no longer exist: they exist.
“It’s true, people no longer go to Africa to capture them in order to sell them in America, no. But it is in our cities. And there are these traffickers, these people who treat the working people without justice.”
Pope Francis also condemned employers who exploit their workers by offering only temporary contracts or not providing health insurance.
The Pontiff highlighted that Christians err when they think there is a ‘theology of prosperity’ in which God “sees that you are just and gives you much wealth”.
“You cannot serve God and wealth,” the Pope said, reflecting on a passage from the letter of James in which the early disciple warns that the wealthy will one day “weep and wail” and that their riches will rot away.
While wealth can be a good thing if it is used for good ends, it can also become like a “chain” that pulls us away from being free to follow Jesus, the Pope commented.
He highlighted a scenario in which an employer offers work to someone from September to June, without the possibility of a pension or health insurance.
For July and August that person “must eat air” the Pope Francis criticised.