Here is a translation of the Pope’s address Saturday when he received in audience the Christian Union of Business Executives (UCID)
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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
My cordial greeting goes to you all, and I thank Cardinal De Giorgi and the national President for having introduced this meeting.
The Christian Union of Business Executives brings together Catholic businessmen who set themselves the objective to be architects of development for the common good. To do this, you give great importance to Christian formation, carried out above all through reflection on the social teaching of the Church. This formative commitment is the foundation of action, be it personal , in the way of living one’s profession, be it associated, in the apostolate of the environment. Therefore, I exhort you to continue enthusiastically in your formative activities, to be the ferment and stimulation, by word and example, in the business world.
In as much as this is an ecclesial association, recognized by the Bishops, you are called to live the evangelical counsels with fidelity and the Social Doctrine of the Church in the family, at work and in society. This witness is very important. Therefore, I encourage you to live your business vocation in the very spirit of the lay mission. The “work” of the businessman, in fact,is a “noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life; this will enable them truly to serve the common good by striving to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 203).
The business and the executive office of firms can become places of sanctification, through each one’s commitment to build fraternal relations between businessmen, executives and workers, fostering co-responsibility and collaboration in the common interest. It is decisive to give special attention to the quality of the working life of dependents, who are the most precious resource of a business, in particular to foster harmonization between work and family. I am thinking in particular of the workers: the challenge is to watch over at the same time be it their right to work that is fully recognized, be it their vocation to maternity and presence in the family. How many times, how many times we have heard that a woman goes to the boss and says: “I must tell you I am pregnant.” “From the end of the month she doesn’t work more.” The woman must be protected, helped in this double endeavor: the right to work and the right to maternity. Qualifying also is the responsibility of businesses for the defense and care of creation and to engage in progress that is “healthier, more human, more social and more integral” (Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 112).
This call to be missionaries of the social dimension of the Gospel, in the difficult and complex world of work, of the economy and of business, also implies openness and evangelical closeness to the different situations of poverty and fragility. Here also it is about an attitude, a style with which to carry forward programs of promotion and assistance, enhancing the numerous and meritorious concrete works of sharing and solidarity that you support in various parts of Italy. This will also be a way proper to you to put into practice the grace of the Jubilee of Mercy. One of you might say to me: ”Ah, Father, to practice mercy … we do some charity …” It’s not enough to give assistance, it’s not enough to do some charity. This is not enough; this, perhaps, is the first step. It is necessary to orient economic activity in the evangelical sense, that is, at the service of the person and of the common good. In this perspective, you are called to make a business spirit of subsidiarity grow, to address at the same time ethical challenges and those of the market, first among all the challenges being to create good opportunities of work. Think of young people. I believe that 40% of young people here today are without work. In another neighboring country, 47%; in another neighboring country, more than 50%. Think of young people, but be creative in creating opportunities of work that go forward and give work, because he who does not have work not only does not bring bread home but loses his dignity! And contributing to trace this way are also the initiatives of encounter and study, which you carry out on the territory.
Business is a good of common interest, in as much as it is a good of property and of private management, by the simple fact that it pursues objectives of general interest and importance, such as, for instance, economic development, innovation and occupation, it should be protected in as much as a good in itself. Called to this work of protection in the first place are institutions, but also businessmen, economists, financial and banking agencies and all the subjects involved must not fail to act with competence, honesty and a sense of responsibility. The economy and business are in need of ethics for their correct functioning; not any sort of ethics, but rather an ethic that puts the person and the community at the center. Today I renew to you the mandate to commit yourselves together to this end; and you will bear fruits in the measure in which the Gospel is alive and present in your hearts, in your mind and in your actions.
I entrust you, your work, your families and your dependents to the protection of Saint Joseph the Worker, the great Saint Joseph. I invoke upon each of you the Lord’s Blessing. And I ask you, please, to pray for me: I give you this work also!
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]