‘Think globally, act locally’ says the bumper sticker. It certainly applies to this issue.

It’s not just one nation’s problem.

The global issue of unemployment points to a structural problem that was identified well before the onset of the world financial crisis, according to the Holy See. But its consequence is a scenario that “we must do our very best to avoid.”

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the U.N. offices in Geneva, made this observation last Wednesday at the 100th Session of the International Labour Conference.

The archbishop noted how “sovereign governments in most instances have not been able to find a formula for economic growth that restores jobs and includes new employment opportunities for the millions who are looking for work.”

Thus, “unemployment rates remain high and show no sign of recovery in the short term and the long term prognosis is uneven.”

This is a terrible human problem across the globe, hard to assess as worse for one demographic over another. However…

The problem of youth unemployment “has a wider and deeper impact that affects society as a whole,” the prelate explained, noting the tendency of the under- or unemployed to lose confidence and eventually drop out of the job market. The uncertainty over working opportunities and conditions creates psychological instability, he cautioned, meaning life-plans such as marriage become increasingly difficult.

“This leads to situations of human decline, to say nothing of the waste of social resources,” the prelate said, quoting “Caritas in Veritate.”

Women, too, are facing a particularly difficult employment situation, the Holy See representative noted.

Among other factors, Archbishop Tomasi pointed to a “cross cutting discrimination” reality — “the fact that labour markets remain so inflexible and find it difficult to reconcile the work model and schedule with the responsibilities for childcare and the care of other dependents that many in the workforce carry.”

“Generating and taking care of new generations is the human activity which is closest to economic investment, and the family itself is a sort of ‘relational’ investment,” he proposed.

To be clear…the family pre-exists the state. The family is pre-eminent. But it’s the foundation of society.

…as it is well known that families play a crucial role in providing social capital for human and economic development, especially in low-income countries.”

Archbishop Tomasi recalled Blessed John Paul II’s definition of work as a “hard good.”

“It is good not only in the sense that it is useful or something to enjoy; it is also good as being something worthy, that is to say, something that corresponds to man’s dignity, that expresses this dignity and increases it,” he explained.

Whatever we can do to foster a family and work environment, we’d better find it. Fast.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....