Below is Pope Francis’ address on Saturday, May 20, 2017, to participants of a meeting on the theme: “Constructive Alternatives in a Phase of Global Upheavals. Occupation and Dignity of the Individual in the Digital Era – Incentives to Solidarity and to Civic Virtue” whom he received in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall, May 18-20, 2017). The meeting was promoted by the “Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice” Foundation, which was established in 1993 by Blessed John Paul II and lay Catholic business, academic and professional leaders:
Dear Friends, I give you a warm welcome on the occasion of the International Conference of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation. I thank the President, Mister Domingo Sugranyes Bickel, for his kind expressions of greeting in your name. I express my appreciation for your efforts in seeking alternative ways to understand the economy, development and commerce, to respond to the ethical challenges posed by the imposition of new paradigms and new forms of power, stemming from technology, the culture of waste and lifestyles that ignore the poor and scorn the weak (Cf. Encyclical Laudato Si’, 16).
Many people commit themselves to unite the human family in a common search for sustainable and integral development, because we know that things can change (Cf. Ibid., 13). Your Foundation also offers a precious contribution precisely in considering commercial and financial activities in the light of the rich tradition of the Social Doctrine of the Church and an intelligent search for constructive alternatives. On the basis of your competence and experience, and in cooperation with other persons of goodwill, you are committed to develop models of economic growth centered on dignity, freedom and creativity, which are peculiar characteristics of the human person.
Your Declaration of this year rightly notes that the fight against poverty calls for better understanding of it as a human and not merely economic phenomenon. To promote integral human development requires dialogue and involvement with the needs and aspirations of people; it requires listening to the poor and their daily experience of many and superimposed privations, excogitating specific answers to concrete situations. This requires giving life within communities and between communities and in the business world, to structures of mediation capable of putting persons and resources together, initiating processes in which the poor are the main protagonists and beneficiaries. Such an approach to economic activity, based on the person, will encourage initiative and creativity, the entrepreneurial spirit and work and business communities, and in this way will foster social inclusion and the growth of a culture of effective solidarity.
During these days you have paid particular attention to the crucial question of the creation of work in the context of the new technological revolution underway. How can we not be concerned about the grave problem of the unemployment of young people and adults who do not have the means to “promote” themselves? And this has reached a very serious, very serious level. “It is a problem that has assumed truly dramatic proportions, both in developed as well as developing countries and which calls to be addressed with a sense of justice between generations and of responsibility for the future. In an analogous way, the efforts to address together the questions connected with the growth of the new technologies, with the transformation of markets and with the legitimate aspirations of workers must take into consideration not only individuals but also families. As you know, this has been a an expressed concern of the recent Synodal Assemblies on the Family, which have highlighted how the uncertainty in work conditions often ends by increasing the pressure and problems of the family and has an effect on the family’s capacity to participate fruitfully in the life of the society (Cf. Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 44).
Dear friends, I encourage you, I encourage your efforts to bring the light of the Gospel and the richness of the Social Doctrine of the Church to these pressing questions, contributing to an informed debate, to dialogue and to research, but also committing you to that change of attitude, of opinions and lifestyles, which is essential to build a more just, free and harmonious world.
In formulating my wish and hope for the fruitfulness of your work, I invoke God’s blessing upon you, upon your families and upon the members of your foundation.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]