Towards Dignified Work.

On 8-10 May, representatives of the Holy See, Episcopal Conferences, International Inter-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, trade unions, faith-based organizations, including the World Council of Churches, academia, and civil society organizations gathered in Rome for a consultation titled “Care is Work, Work is Care: Towards Building a Global Transformative Community and Contributing to the Global Development Agenda.” The participants were received by His Holiness Pope Francis in a private audience on the opening day of the event, during which the Holy Father advocated for decent and dignified work and better treatment of migrants. 

Pope Francis
Pope Francis addressing the participants of the consultation “Care is Work, Work is Care” during a private audience on 8 May. ©ICMC

The event was organized by the ICMC-coordinated project “The Future of Work, Labour after Laudato Si’”, with the support of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. It gathered a diverse panel of participants from 5 continents who, over the three days, shared their unique perspectives on five interrelated priority issues critical to promoting social justice and environmental sustainability:

  • promotion of social justice and human dignity: emphasizing rights for all, with a focus on the voices and experiences of marginalized workers. This includes adhering to International Labour Standards and combating structural inequalities.
  • decent work, food production, and supply chain: reforming the food production system to ensure fair wages and safe working conditions for agricultural workers, many of whom live in poverty and face hazardous environments.
  • protection and care of migrants and their families: ensuring basic rights and dignified living conditions for migrants, recognizing their significant contributions to host societies.
  • decent work and extractive industry: balancing the economic benefits of mining with its environmental and social impacts, promoting sustainable practices, and protecting local communities.
  • just transition and care for our common home: transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and managing the impact of new technologies on the workforce, ensuring that these changes are just and inclusive.
Participants of the consultation, representing the Holy See, Episcopal Conferences, International Inter-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, trade unions, faith-based organizations, academia, and civil society organizations ©ICMC

These issues had been identified ahead of the consultation by regional working groups, through Common Social Discernment (CSD), a methodology that promotes social dialogue between various stakeholders with divergent views, to identify key issues and come to a consensus to propose solutions rooted in lived experiences and care for both the human person and our common home. “We want to build action for greater social justice in the world and to remember that without workers, it will be very hard to have an economy, and it will be very hard to build a just society in the world,” explained Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, ICMC Secretary General and moderator of the consultation. 

Pope Francis, in a private audience with the participants, highlighted the importance of the consultation’s goals. He encouraged a common social discernment to promote the integration of care into all forms of work, emphasizing that “the world needs renewed commitment, a new social compact that can bind us together, older and younger generations, for the care of creation and for solidarity and mutual protection within the human community.”

H.E. Cardinal Michael Czerny S.J., prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Development, echoed Pope Francis’ message during the opening ceremony. “It is urgent to reflect on the future of work in the context of the great changes that are happening in our time. The overriding goal is always to defend the dignity and promote the rights of working men and women,” he said before asking the audience what concrete challenges this entails, and what actions must be taken to achieve such goals. 

H.E Cardinal Michael Czerny S.J., prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Development, during the opening ceremony. ©ICMC

After three days of reflection organized around panel discussions, testimonies from participants, and thematic group work, the consultation concluded with the drafting of a roadmap, that will serve as a guide for future efforts, emphasizing the interconnectedness of work, care, and social justice. The document outlines a commitment to ongoing action and advocacy in various areas, namely:

  • understanding and promoting the “Care is Work, Work is Care” approach: through research, reflection, and the sharing of lived experiences, the consultation aimed to deepen understanding and promote this integrative perspective.
  • transforming organizations and communities: by providing training and capacity-building, the participants aimed to implement the care-centric approach within their own institutions and to foster broader alliances.
  • advocating for social justice: engaging in multilateral processes and advocating for policies that promote social justice and decent work, with a particular emphasis on amplifying the voices of marginalized groups.

This vision aligns with the broader goals of sustainability, equity, and human dignity, paving the way for a more inclusive and compassionate world.

Drafting of the roadmap during one of the thematic group work. ©ICMC

The consultation marked a significant milestone in a journey that began with the creation of the “Future of Work: Labour after Laudato Si’” Project, following Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, issued in 2015. This initiative is grounded in Catholic Social Teaching, developed over many centuries, including the writing and speeches of Pope Francis, who often emphasizes the interconnection between human dignity, work, and care for our common home. The project’s first phase focused on research and capacity-building among participant organizations, culminating in a comprehensive report that articulated the core theme of “Care is Work: Work is Care.” The second phase started with the creation of regional working groups, which shared their perspectives and experiences, laying the groundwork for the Rome consultation.

The roadmap is available in English, French and Spanish.



ICMC provides assistance and protection to vulnerable people on the move and advocates for sustainable solutions for refugees and migrants.