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The Pope’s Nine Economic Tips to Christian Businessmen Meeting in the Vatican

The Holy Father’s address to the International Christian Union of Business Executives (UNIAPAC) in the context of their 27th World Congress held in Vatican City.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 21.10.2022).- Pope Francis received in special audience, in Paul VI Hall, the participants in the 27th World Congress of the International Christian Union of Business Executives (UNIAPAC). The Congress took place in the Synod’s New Hall in Vatican City, from October 20-22, on the theme “The Courage to Change: Create a New Economy for the Common Good.” 

* * *

Dear leaders and participants in UNIAPAC’s 27th World Congress:

In the first place, I apologize for the delay. Thank you for your patience while waiting. My appointments today were longer than expected and I apologize. 

I greet you and welcome you to this important meeting to reflect and reinforce your commitment to your noble vocation of businessmen (Cf. Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 129). We must never forget that all our capacities, including success in business, are gifts of God and must be directed clearly to the development of others and to the eradication of poverty, especially through the creation of diversified employment opportunities” (Encyclical All Brothers, 123). Change always requires courage, but true courage also calls for our recognizing divine grace in our lives. Thus writes the Psalmist: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14).

[1st Called to be creative to do good]

I pray that during these days together, and especially when you return to your homes and workplaces , you will always be conscious of the grace and wisdom of God in your lives, and that will enable you to guide and direct your relations in business and with those who work for you. “We are called to be creative to do good, [. . . ] using the goods of this world — not only the material but all the gifts we have received from the Lord — not to enrich ourselves, but to generate fraternal love and social friendship” (Angelus, September 18, 2022); to generate social friendship.

[2nd The necessity of an economy that gives life and does not kill]

The theme of your Congress poses a great challenge for you and for many others in the business world: to create a new economy for the common good. There is no doubt that our world needs urgently “a different economy, which gives life and does not kill, which includes and does not exclude, which humanizes and does not de-humanize, which takes care of creation and does not despoil it” [1]. Continuing with the reflection on a new economy, but especially as one begins to put it into practice, one should try to keep present that economic activity “must have all men and all peoples as subjects.” Every person has the right to take part in the economic life and the duty to contribute, according to his possibilities, to the progress of his country and of all the human family [. . . ] it is a duty of solidarity and of justice, but it is also the best way to make the whole of humanity progress” [2].

[3rd Any new economy must be inclusive]

Hence, any “new economy for the common good” must be inclusive. Too often the slogan states “leave no one behind” without any intention of offering the sacrifice and effort to change these words into reality. In his Encyclical Populorum Progessio, Saint Paul VI wrote: “Development is not reduced to mere economic growth. To be genuine development, it must be integral, namely, directed to the promotion of every man and of all men” (n. 14). 

[4th Act as ferment for the development of all persons, especially the marginalized]

In carrying out your profession, you, businessmen and entrepreneurs, are called  to act as ferment so that development reaches all people, but especially the most marginalized  the neediest, so that the economy contributes always to integral human development. In this connection, let us not forget the important contribution of the informal sector during the present COVID-19 pandemic. During the blocking of the greater part of society, the informal workers guaranteed the provision and delivery of necessary goods for daily life and the care of our most fragile dear ones, and they maintained the basic economic activities, despite the interruption of many formal activities. 

In fact, “we are called to give priority to our response to workers that are on the margins of the labour market, [. . . ] the few qualified, the day labourers, those of the informal sector, the migrant and refugee workers, those that do what is commonly called “the three-dimensional work”: dangerous, dirty and degrading, and the list could go on” [3].

[5th Work is the main door to human dignity]

We also discard the idea that the inclusion of the poor and the marginalized can satisfy our efforts to give financial and material aid. As is written in Laudato Si’, to help the poor with money must always be a temporal remedy to address emergencies. The real objective should be to enable them to have a dignified life through work” (No, 128). In fact, the main door to man’s dignity is work. It is not enough to bring home the bread; it is necessary to earn the bread one brings home. 

[6th Understand and respect work as something beyond the businessman-employee exchange]

Work must be understood  and respected as a process that goes far beyond the commercial exchange between businessman and employee. First of all, “a path to maturity, human development and personal fulfilment is part of the meaning of life on this earth” (Ibid.) Work “is an expression of our being created in the image and likeness of God,” the Worker (cf. Genesis 2:3). We are called to work from our creation” [4], imitating God who is the first worker. 

[7th The economy of care]

This work must be well integrated in an economy of care. Care can be understood as care of persons and of nature, offering products and services for the growth of the common good. An economy that takes care of the workforce, creating opportunities of employment that do not exploit the worker through degrading work conditions and exhausting hours” [5]. We are not referring here only to work related with cares. “care goes beyond, it must be a dimension of all work. A work that does not take care, which destroys creation, which puts in danger the survival of future generations, is not respectful of the worker’s dignity and cannot be considered decent. On the contrary, work that is concerned to contribute to the restoration of full human dignity, will help to guaranty a sustainable future for the forthcoming generations. And this dimension of care includes, in the first place, the workers” [6].

[8th The youthful proposal of an “evangelical economy”]

To finish, I would like to share with you the “good news” that recently, in the city of Assisi, where Saint Francis and the first friars embraced poverty and proposed a new radical economy to the economic leaders of his time, a thousand of young economists and businessmen reasoned about the creation of a new economy and wrote and signed a Pact to reform the global economic system for the purpose of improving the life of all people. 

I would like to share with you some of the main points, for two reasons: in the first place, because too often young people are excluded; in the second place, because creativity and “new” thought often come from young people; and , we, as elderly persons, must have the courage to stop and listen to them. Just as young people must listen to elders, we all have to listen to young people. For a new economy of the common good, these young people have proposed an “evangelical economy” that, among other things, includes:

  • An economy of peace and not of war: let us think of what is spent on the production of arms;
  • An economy that takes care of creation and does not despoil it (let us think of deforestation); 
  • An economy at the service of the person, of the family, and of life, respectful of every woman, man, child, elderly person and, especially, of the most fragile and vulnerable;
  • An economy in which care substitutes waste and indifference;
  • An economy that does not leave anyone behind, to build a society where the discarded stones of the dominant mentality become corner stones;
  •  An economy that recognizes and protects  decent and safe work for all;
  • An economy in which finances are friends and allies of the real economy and of work, and not against them [7] because finances have the danger of making the “liquid,” also “gaseous” economy, and to proceed with this liquidity and gaseousness ends up like Saint Anthony’s chain!). 

[9th Consider a new alliance with young people]

Today there are hundreds, thousands, millions and perhaps billions of young people that struggle to access the formal economic systems, or even simply to access their first remunerated job in which they can put into practice their academic knowledge, their acquired abilities, their energy and enthusiasm. I would like to encourage you, business leaders and mature and successful entrepreneurs to consider a new alliance with young people who have created and committed themselves to this Pact. It is true that young people always bring problems, but they have the gift to show you the true way. To walk with them, teach them and learn from them and, together, to give shape to “a new economy for the common good.”

Thank you for what you do, thank you for being here, I bless this path you undertake, that you are taking, and I bless each one of you and your families. And you also, please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you. 

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