Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ address to members of the Italian association of manufacturing companies, Confindustria, given Saturday morning in Paul VI Hall:
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning!
I greet you all, representatives of the world of business, who have come here in such numbers. I thank the President, Mr Squinzi, as well as Mr Ghizzoni and Mrs Marcegaglia, for the words they addressed to me. With this meeting, which constitutes a novelty in the history of your Association, you are determined to confirm a commitment: to contribute with your work to a more just society, close to the needs of man. You wish to reflect together on the ethics of doing business; together you have decided to reinforce attention to values, which are the “spinal cord “ of projects of formation, of utilization of the territory and of promotion of social relations, which make possible a concrete alternative to the consumerist model of profit at all costs.
“To undertake together” is the expression you chose as guide and orientation. It inspires to collaboration, to sharing, to preparing the way for relations regulated by a common sense of responsibility. This way opens the field to new strategies, new styles and new attitudes. How different our life would be if we truly learned, day by day, to work, to think and to build together!
In the complex world of business, “to undertake together” means to invest in projects that are able to involve subjects often forgotten or neglected. Among these, first of all, families, focuses of humanity, in which the experience of work, the sacrifice that nourishes it and the fruits that derive from it find meaning and value. And, together with families, we cannot forget the weakest and most marginalized categories, such as the elderly, who can still express resources and energies for an active collaboration, yet too often are discarded as useless and unproductive. And what to say of all those potential workers, especially of young people, that, prisoners of precariousness and of long periods of unemployment, are not called upon by a request for work that gives them, in addition to an honest salary, also that dignity of which at times they feel deprived?
All these strengths, together, can make the difference for a business that puts the person at the center, the quality of his relations, the truth of his commitment to build a more just world, a world that is truly of all. In fact, “to undertake together” means to undertake work not based on the solitary genius of an individual, but on the collaboration of many. In other words, it means to “create networks” to value the gifts of all, without neglecting, however, the unrepeatable uniqueness of each one. Hence, man must be at the center of every business: not the abstract, ideal, theoretical man, but the concrete one, with his dreams, his needs, his hopes and his efforts.
This attention to the concrete person implies a series of important choices: it means giving each one his due, uprooting from mothers and fathers of families the anguish of not being able to give a future and not even a present to their children. It means to be able to direct, but also to be able to listen. Sharing with humility and trust plans and ideas. It means having work create other work, responsibility create other responsibility, hope create other hope, especially for the young generations, which today are in greater need than ever.
In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium I re-launched the challenge to support one another, of making of the shared experience an occasion for “greater possibilities of encounter and of solidarity among all” (n. 87). In face of so many barriers of injustice, of loneliness, of mistrust and of suspicion that are again erected in our days, the world of work, of which you are actors of the first plane, is called to take courageous steps so that “to meet and undertake together” is not just a slogan, but a program for the present and for the future.
Dear friends, you have “a noble vocation oriented to produce wealth and to improve the world for all” (Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 129). Therefore, you are called to be builders of the common good and architects of a new “humanism of work.”
You are called to safeguard professionalism and, at the same time, to pay attention to the conditions in which work is carried out, so that incidents and situations of hardship are not verified. May your masterful way always be justice, which rejects the short cuts of recommendations and favoritism, and the dangerous deviations of dishonesty and of easy compromises. May your supreme law in everything be attention to the dignity of the other, absolute and inalienable value. May this horizon of altruism distinguish your commitment: it will lead you to reject categorically the striking of a person’s dignity in the name of productive exigencies, which mask individualistic myopias, sad egoisms and thirst for gain. Instead, the business you represent must be always open to that “wider meaning of life,” which will enable it to “truly serve the common good, with its effort to multiply the goods of this world and make them more accessible to all” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 203). In fact, may the common good be the compass that orients productive activity, so that an economy of all and for all grows, which is not to “keep needy eyes waiting” (Sirach 4:1). It is truly possible, provided that the simple proclamation of economic freedom does not prevail over the concrete freedom of man and over his rights, that the market is not an absolute, but honors the exigencies of justice and, in the last analysis, of the person’s dignity, because there is no freedom without justice and there is no justice without respect of the dignity of each one.
I thank you for your commitment and for all the good you do and can do. May the Lord bless you. And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. Thank you!
And now I would like to ask the Lord to bless you all, your families, your businesses.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]