Scholars and representatives from business and international organizations have gathered to deepen thinking and perspectives on social justice, as set forth by Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.
Intended to examine the concept of an “inclusive economy” which Francis proposes in the apostolic exhortation, some 70 experts gathered at the Vatican seminar on the theme “The Global Common Good: Towards a more inclusive economy,” reported Vatican Radio.
The closed-door event was organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in collaboration with the Vatican Secretariat of State, and was held July 12-13 in the Casina Pio IV of the Vatican Gardens.
The Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Msgr. Mario Toso, in his keynote address, stressed how globalization has increased the gaps and inequalities between the rich and the poor.
He explained, in an interview with Vatican Radio, that this seminar was needed to give clarity. Distorted interpretations of the Pope’s words and accusations of Marxism necessitate explaining that the Pope’s proposal for an “economy that is always more inclusive” does not imply the abandonment of a market economy, and that the Pope’s allusion to an “economy that kills” refers to idolatry of money.
Although economists are traditionally concerned with issues of the day, economic development must have foresight to assure environmental sustainability and to avoid dramatic financial crises, he said.
Speaking on why the conference was held behind closed doors, Msgr. Toso said much of its content needed to be refined and integrated. The large number of requests to participate, he said, can be attributed to how much attention the Pope’s words on economics, peace and sustainable development are receiving.
Pope Francis had lunch and spoke to the conference participants Saturday afternoon.
Below are excerpts of his address. (D.C.L.)
Excerpts from Pope Francis’ Post-Lunch Address to Seminar Participants:
“What you do is very important,” the Pontiff told the participants. “Reflecting on reality, but reflecting without fear, reflecting with intelligence. Without fear and with intelligence. And this is a service.”
Referring to the themes considered during the seminar, he went on to offer a brief discourse on anthropological reductionism. “I believe that this is the strongest moment for anthropological reductionism,” he said.
“What is happening to humanity at the moment is what happens when wine becomes brandy: it passes through a phase of distillation, in organizational terms. It is no longer wine, but it is something else: perhaps more useful, more qualified, but it is not wine!”
He said that for mankind, it is the same: “man passes through this transformational phase and ends up – and I am serious – losing his humanity and becoming a tool of the system, a social and economic system, a system where imbalance reigns. When mankind loses his humanity, what happens to us? What occurs is what I would describe in simple terms as a throwaway policy or sociology: what is no longer useful is discarded, because man is not at the centre. And when man is not at the centre, there is something else in his place and man is at the service of this other thing.”
“The idea, therefore, is to save mankind, in the sense of restoring him to the centre: to the centre of society, of thought, of reflection. Restoring mankind to the centre. You do good work. You study, reflect, hold conferences for this reason – so that mankind is not discarded.”
“Children are discarded – we all know about today’s birth rates, at least in Europe; the elderly are discarded, because they are not ‘useful’. And now? An entire generation of young people is discarded, and this is very serious! I have seen a figure: 75 million young people, under the age of 25, without work. The ‘neither-nor’ young: those who neither work nor study. They do not study because they do not have the opportunity, and the do not work because there is no work.”
“Who will be the next to be discarded? Let us stop this in time, please!”
The Pope thanked those present for their work and their initiatives “to restore balance to this imbalanced situation and to recover mankind, restoring him to the centre of reflection and the centre of life. He is the king of the universe!” he exclaimed. “And this is not theology, it is philosophy and human reality.”