Addressing the 50,000 people crowding St. Peter's Square at midday Sunday, the Holy Father highlighted the day's liturgical memorial of St. Joseph the Worker, instituted 50 years ago by Pope Pius XII, "to underline the importance of work and of the presence of Christ and of the Church in the working world."
"I hope that work will not be lacking, especially for young people, and that working conditions will be increasingly respectful of the dignity of the human person," affirmed Benedict XVI.
His message was inspired by the "Gospel of work," often mentioned by Pope John Paul II and explained in his 1981 encyclical, "Laborem Exercens."
The Pontiff greeted all workers "with affection," in particular the pilgrims of the Christian Associations of Italian Workers (ACLI), who had congregated in the Vatican and were celebrating their 60th anniversary.
"I encourage them to continue to live their option of 'Christian fraternity' as a value to incarnate in the field of work and social life, so that solidarity, justice and peace will be the pillars on which the unity of the human family is built," the Holy Father said.
The Pope, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, did not hide his emotion when greeting pilgrims "for the first time from this window, which the beloved figure of my predecessor made familiar to innumerable people worldwide."
Benedict XVI moved into his predecessor's apartment on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace on Saturday. Since his election, he had stayed at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse where the cardinal electors roomed during the conclave.