The following is Pope Francis' address to participants in a meeting organized by the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation, on the occasion of the International Congress on the theme The Good Society and the Future of Jobs: Can Solidarity and Fraternity be Part of Business Decisions?, held in May in the New Hall of the Synod in the Vatican.
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I welcome you all, members of the Centesiums Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation and participants in the International Congress. I thank the President for his introduction to this meeting, which is a stage of the journey you are completing, seeking to respond to some of the challenges of the present-day world in the light of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
I thank you for having received the suggestion to work on the value of solidarity. Thus we carry forward a topic of reflection and commitment which is intrinsic to the Social Doctrine, which always harmonizes it with subsidiarity. In particular, this topic was greatly highlighted in the teaching of Saint John Paul II and then it was set and updated by Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate.
In the present economic system and in the mentality that it generates the word solidarity has become uncomfortable, even annoying. Last year I said to you that, for this world, it seemed like a dirty word! The crisis of these years, which has a profound cause of an ethical order, has increased this allergy to words such as solidarity, just distribution of goods, priority of work And the reason is that we do not succeed or there is no desire to truly study how these ethical values can become concrete economic values, that is, to cause virtuous dynamics in production, in work, in commerce, and in finance itself.
Instead, this is in fact what you seek to do, always holding the theoretical and practical aspects together, the thought and experiences in the field.
The conscience of the entrepreneur is the essential place in which that search happens. In particular, the Christian entrepreneur is asked to contrast the Gospel always with the reality in which he operates; and the Gospel asks him to put in the first place the human person and the common good, to do his part so that there are opportunities of work, of fitting work. Naturally, this enterprise cannot be carried out in isolation, but collaborating with others who share the ethical base and seek to widen the network as much as possible.
The Christian community the parish, the diocese, the associations is the place in which the entrepreneur, but also the politician, the professional, the trade unionist, draw the lymph to nourish their commitment and to deal with their brothers. This is indispensable, because sometimes the work environment becomes arid, hostile, inhuman. The crisis puts the hope of entrepreneurs to a harsh test; we must not leave alone those who are in most difficulty.
Dear friends of Centesimus Annus, this is your field of witness! Vatican Council II insisted on the fact that the lay faithful are called to carry out their mission in the realms of social, economic and political life. With the help of God and of the Church, you can give effective witness in your field, because you do not just bring words, and addresses, but you bring the experience of persons and enterprises that seek to act completely on the Christian ethical principles in the present situation of the world of work. This witness is most important and I encourage you to take it forward with faith, dedicating also the just time to prayer, because the layman also, the entrepreneur also needs to pray, and to pray much when the challenges are hardest! Last Wednesday I held the catechesis on the gift of Counsel, one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. You also have great need to ask God for this gift, the gift of Counsel, to act and to make your choices according to the greater good. May the Virgin Mary, Mater Boni Consilii, help you and my blessing also accompany you.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]