Here is a translation of the Pope’s address from last Saturday to those present at an audience for directors and personnel from the Cooperative Credit Bank of Rome.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning and welcome!
I greet and thank the President, the members of the Administration Council, the associate co-operators, the dependents and the numerous relatives present. Last February I met with the representatives of “Conf-Cooperative” and of “Federbanks”; today I meet with you, on the 60th anniversary of the foundation of your Co-Operative Credit Bank.
The reason for these meetings is that the Church knows well the value of co-operatives. At the origin of many of them are priests, committed lay faithful, and communities led by the spirit of Christian solidarity. This “Movement” has never been exhausted. In the Encyclical Laudato Si’, I also stressed their value in the field of renewable energies and in agriculture (cf. nn. 179-180).
I would like to take up with you some encouragements, which I addressed in February to the whole Confederation. I will recall them briefly.
- First : to continue to be an engine that develops the weakest part of the local communities and of civil society, thinking above all of young people without work and geared to the birth of new co-operative enterprises.
- Second: To be leaders in proposing and in carrying out new welfare solutions, beginning with the field of health.
- Third: To be concerned with the relation between the economy and social justice, keeping at the center the dignity and value of persons. The person must always be at the center, not the god of money.
- Fourth: To facilitate and encourage the life of families, and propose co-operative and mutual solutions for the management of common goods, which cannot become the property of a few or the object of speculation.
- Fifth: To promote a solidaristic and social use of money, in the style of the true co-operative, where capital does not command over men, but men over capital.
- Sixth: As fruit of all this, to make the economy of honesty grow — the economy of honesty at this time in which the air of corruption is everywhere. Not only are you asked to be honest — this is normal– but to spread and root honesty in the whole environment, to fight against corruption.
- Seventh: Finally, to take part actively in globalization, so that it is the globalization of solidarity.
Every co-operative is called to apply these lines to its own specific mission. You are a credit co-operative, and the largest Co-operative Credit Bank in Italy. It can happen that a co-operative becomes a great enterprise, but this is not the most important challenge. The most important challenge is to grow continuing to be a true co-operative, in fact, becoming so even more. It is a real challenge! This means to foster the active participation of the members — to work together and to work for others.
Naturally, a healthy and prudent management is always good for all. Banking is a delicate profession, which calls for great rigor. However, a Co-operative Bank should have something more: to seek to humanize the economy, to join efficiency with solidarity.
And there is another important word in the Social Doctrine [of the Church] — the word “subsidiarity.” As Co-operative Credit Banks you have put subsidiarity in practice when you addressed the difficulties of the crisis with your means, joining forces and not at the expense of others. This is subsidiarity: not to weigh on institutions and, therefore, on the country when problems can be addressed with one’s strengths, with responsibility. Therefore, it is important that you go forward in the path of integration of the Co-operative Credit Banks in Italy. Not only because, as it is said, union gives strength, but because it is necessary to think bigger, to widen the horizon.
I was told about the important resources that you have allocated to charity and mutual aid. This is typical of good Co-operatives. I encourage you also to pay attention to how the income is produced, with what care so that persons, young people and families are always at the center.
At the beginning of the Rural Banks, it was hoped that the Credit Co-operative could stimulate other initiatives of co-operation. This spirit remains valid. The BCC can be the nucleus around which a great network is built to have enterprises born that give jobs; there are so many [people] without work … enterprises that give jobs to support families, to experience the micro-credit and other ways of humanizing the economy and, above all, to give the opportunity to every man and every woman to have dignity, the dignity that work gives!
I encourage you to take part actively and generously in the life of the whole Co-operative Movement. You are the BCC of Rome, but I know that your radius of action extends to Lazio and also Abruzzo. In all this territory you can exercise with fidelity and creativity the mission of the Co-operative Credit. I hope you will do it with consistency and with the joy that comes when working for the common good. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady be with you. And, please, do not forget to pray for me.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]