Members of the “Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontefice” Foundation, which was established 20 years ago by Blessed John Paul II, were received on Saturday afternoon by Pope Francis during their annual international conference. This year’s theme is “Rethinking Solidarity for Work: Challenges of the 21st Century”.
In his address to them, the Bishop of Rome noted that the foundation bears the same name as an encyclical published by John Paul II on the centenary anniversary of “Rerum Novarum” and has, therefore, the Church’s social doctrine as the scope of its analysis and action. “Rethinking solidarity,” he said, “doesn’t mean questioning the recent Magisterium that, in fact, demonstrates ever more its vision and its relevance. Rather, ‘rethinking’ seems to me to mean two things: first of all combining the Magisterium with socio-economic development that, being constant and quick, always presents new aspects and second, ‘rethinking’ means going more in depth, reflecting further, to make all of a value’s worth emerge—solidarity in this case—which draws upon the Gospel profoundly, that is, upon Jesus Christ and thus contains inexhaustible potential.”
“The current economic and social crisis adds urgency to this ‘rethinking’. … It is a phenomenon, like that of unemployment—the lack and the loss of a job—that is spreading like wildfire in large areas of the West and that is alarmingly extending the boundaries of poverty. And there is no worse material poverty, I would like to emphasize, than that which deprives someone of earning their living, deprives them of the dignity of work. By now this ‘something wrong’ is not just affecting the southern regions of the world, but the entire planet. Hence the need to ‘rethink solidarity’, no longer as simple assistance to the poor but as a global rethinking of the entire system, seeking ways to reform and correct it in a manner consistent with fundamental human rights, the rights of all men and women. This word ‘solidarity’, which isn’t seen in a good light by the economic world—as if it were a bad word—needs to have its deserved social citizenship restored.”
At the end of his address, the Holy Father reiterated that the crisis is not just an economic or financial one, but rather is rooted in an ethical and anthropological crisis. “Chasing the idols of power, profit, and money over and above the value of the human person has become a basic rule of operation and a decisive criterion of organization. It has been forgotten, and still we forget, that above business logic and the parameters of the market lies human being and that there is something owed to humans as humans, in virtue of their profound dignity: the opportunity to live in dignity and to actively participate in the common good.”