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FEATURE : ‘An Economy Which Excludes No One’ — Cardinal Turkson Explains to ZENIT Importance of Pope’s Assisi Encounter

Prefect of Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Human Development Shares About Motivation Behind Upcoming Initiative This Lent

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An invitation to conceive, to dream, to formulate a new form of economy that leaves no one behind, that puts the person at the center….

Speaking to ZENIT, Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Human Development, says this is at the heart of Pope Francis’ upcoming event ‘The Economy of Francesco’ scheduled to take place in the Umbrian hill town, March 26-28, 2020. The Cardinal was speaking at the presentation of the Pontiff’s Message for Lent this 2020 yesterday, Feb. 24, in the Holy See Press Office.

Lenten Appeal for Inclusive, Just Economy

Signed on Oct. 7, 2019 in the Papal Basilica of St John Lateran, and titled: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20),” the message calls for renewed conversion and not living this period in vain.

After an appeal to be charitable and less self-centered toward the end of the document’s four sections, Francis spoke about his motivation for convoking the «Economy of Francis» event, where he will be participating in about a month’s time, noting: «We can and must go even further, and consider the structural aspects of our economic life.»

«For this reason, in the midst of Lent this year,» Francis continued, «I have convened a meeting in Assisi with young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers, with the aim of shaping a more just and inclusive economy.»

«As the Church’s magisterium has often repeated, political life represents an eminent form of charity,» Francis recalled, adding: «The same holds true for economic life, which can be approached in the same evangelical spirit, the spirit of the Beatitudes.»

The Economy of Francesco

According to a press release, more than 2,000 young people under 35, from all over the world, will participate in the «Economy of Francesco,» including men and women entrepreneurs, economists, students, promoters of activities at the service of the common good and a sustainable economy. They will participate «with the common goal of building a fairer and more sustainable world, as indicated by Pope Francis in the encyclical Laudato Si.‘»

Young people will take part in the thematic tables, set up in 12 «villages,» where they will discuss ideas, challenges and proposals for a new economy: management and gift, finance and humanity, work and care, energy and poverty, agriculture and justice,  business and peace, women for economy, CO2, inequalities, vocations, companies in transition, life and lifestyles, policies and happiness.

The countries most represented will be Italy, Brazil, the United States, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, France, Mexico, Germany, and Great Britain.

Cardinal on Concrete Hopes of Pope

ZENIT asked Cardinal Turkson to elaborate on the Pope’s concrete hopes for this gathering and event.

“This initiative in Assisi, entitled «The Economy of Pope Francis,» comes after various initiatives of this type, starting with Migrants & Refugees Section, which helped with the migration pact, and then also the Congregation for Catholic Education which is working on an educational pact.”

The Holy Father–through these Vatican congregations and dicasteries– «is identifying certain situations that require special attention.”

“The meeting in Assisi,» the Cardinal elaborated, represents «a follow-up to an observation made: Pope Francis cites an observation made by Pope Pius XI, which was then also made by Pope Benedict XVI  in the encyclical Caritas in Veritate.”

According to this observation, the Ghanaian Cardinal suggested, politics is a form of charity.

While reminding that we can always speak of political charity, he reminded that: «Pope Francis says, we can also speak of economic charity.»

«This is the beginning of his reflection in this message, of the event of Assisi, in the context of the formulation of an economic charity,  which leads him to say that this is already an invitation to conceive, to dream, to formulate a new form of economy that leaves no one behind, that puts the person at the center, which makes sure – as the Pope says – that money serve the person and not the person be reduced to serving money.»

This, he noted, is the economy of Pope Francis.

The prefect of the dicastery specifically pointed out how the Holy Father’s attention and view is not new.

Economy That Guarantees Future for Younger Generations

«Already the Minister of Finance in France, in an article in the Financial Times in January, said that this is the time for young people to help formulate an economic system that guarantees the future for the younger generations.»

The Cardinal reiterated this invitation for young people to contribute, «formulating an economy that they will have in the future.”

«The Holy Father,» Cardinal Turkson concluded, «simply invites us to sit down again to see if the economy still serves to satisfy the needs of all those living in this common home.

«This,» he said, «is the Assisi initiative.”


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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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