During the morning of the fourth day our brother Luiz Carlos Susin (PR Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) offered us a synthesis of the contributions of the Magisterium regarding work, beginning with the encyclical Rerum novarum of Leo XIII and arriving at Laudato sii of Pope Francis. Within these teachings we were struck by what the speaker said: "Every worker is the hand of Christ, who continues to do good...work in itself is an act that honors God. The human person, when working, changes not only things and society, but also perfects himself." We asked ourselves how me might make incarnate these ideals in our daily life.
Beyond this and other definitions of the high ideal of work, we also heard the critical voice of the Church: "it is shameful and inhuman to use people as instruments for filthy lucre...work exists for the human person and not the human person for the work...it is necessary to proclaim the primacy of work over capital!" How can we avoid falling into this perverse logic?
Br. Luiz reminded us of the message of Pope Blessed Paul VI expressed in his apostolic exhortation Evangelica testificatio, a message that fits us Capuchins well: let us feel ourselves called to combine the return to the sources of the charism with the signs of the times in the way of working, thus preserving human solidarity and evangelical liberty in the diversity of honest works and competences.
In the afternoon we heard witness talks from three of our brothers in faith and we also had a dialogue with them. They were Dominique Pacrot (worker priest from Francis), Christophorus Goedereis (City Pastoral, Germany), and Carmelo Sala (prison chaplain, Italy).
Br. Luiz Carlos Susin OFMCap. A friar of the province of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Doctor in Theology, professor at the Pontifícal University of Rio Grande do Sul and at the Escola Superior de Teologia e Espiritualidade Franciscana in Porto Alegre. Member of the consultative committee of the International Theological Review Concilium, member of the inter-disciplinary team advising the Conference of Religious of Brazil, founder-member and ex-president of the Association of Theology and Sciences of Religion of Brazil, Secretary General of the World Forum for Theology and Liberation. Among his publications on the subject of work: A criação de Deus (Paulinas, 203), A vida dos outros. Ética e teologia animal (Paulinas 2015). And the chapter: Work, between blessing and curse. A theology of work in the Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church. In: Leomar Antônio Brustolin. (Org.). Estudos de Doutrina Social da Igreja. Porto Alegre: EST, 2007. p. 49-55.
Br. Christophorus Goedereis, a moderator of our PCO, was presented to us on the first day. I had the occasion of getting to know him and appreciating him when we were provincial ministers in the same conference. At that time, among other things, he had the task of bringing about the unification of the two German Provinces. Currently he directs "City Pastoral" in downtown Frankfurt. He will soon explain to us what it's all about. Beyond this ministry, Christophorus works in various sectors in both his Province and for the German Church. Thank you, Christophorus for sharing your experience with us; we will listen to you with attention.
Br. Dominique Pacreau, whom we welcome today, is guardian of the small fraternity of Capuchins in Montpellier, France. Before the unifications of the provinces into one, Dominique was provincial minister of Southern France. We invited him to share with us his long experience as a working friar. As member of the network of 'worker priests,' he exercises his ministry in a neighborhood that is densely populated and multicultural. On the local and national level he participates in the Catholic Workers' Action. Dominique, we thank you for being with us and will listen to you attentively.