From Nov. 20 to Nov. 23 at Verona was held the 4thedition of the Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church, on the theme: “Beyond Places, Within Time.” The Pope sent a video-message to the participants.

Here is a translation of the transcription of the Pope’s words.

* * *


A cordial greeting to all of you taking part in the fourth edition of the Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church, whose theme this year is: “Beyond Places, Within Time.” This title suggests to me some reflections.

The first is concerned with going beyond. The situation of social and economic crisis in which we find ourselves can frighten and disorient us and make us think that the situation is so onerous that we conclude we cannot do anything. The great temptation is to stop, to take care of one’s own wounds, and to find in this the excuse not to hear the cry of the poor and the suffering of those who have lost the dignity of taking bread home, because they have lost their job. And those who seek to take care only of their own wounds, end up deceiving themselves. This is a trap. The risk is that indifference renders us blind, deaf and dumb, present only to ourselves, with the mirror in front of us, where everything happens in our extraneousness. Men and women shut-in on themselves. There was someone like this called Narcissus. Don’t take that path.

We are called to go beyond and to respond to real needs. It is urgent to abandon the common places, which are kept secure and guaranteed, to free the many hidden and unknown energies that are present and operate very concretely. Christian ethics is not a customs office for the plurality of expressions with which the good and care of one’s neighbor is manifested. To go beyond means to enlarge and not restrict, to create spaces and not limit oneself to their control. It would be lovely if many rivulets of the good went to create a large river whose water overcomes the aridity and bring new fruitfulness, making this life and this time shine and rendering it beautiful and kind. To go beyond means to free the good and to enjoy the fruits.

To go beyond it is necessary to take the initiative. I know that the Festival is dedicating ample space to the economy, to entrepreneurs, to enterprises and to cooperation. Today it is also urgent to take the initiative in the economic ambit, because the system tens to homologize everything and money is the master. The system leads to this globalization which is not good and which homologizes everything. And who is the master of this homologation? It is money. To take the initiative in these ambits means to have the courage not to allow oneself to be imprisoned by money and by short-term results, becoming slaves. There must be a new way of seeing things! I will give you an example. Today it is said that many things cannot be done because money is lacking. Yet there is always money to do some things and it is lacking to do others. For instance, money is found to acquire arms, to make wars, for unscrupulous financial operations. In regard to this there is usually silence. Stressed a lot is the money that is lacking to create work, to invest in knowledge, in talents, to plan a new welfare , to safeguard the environment. , the real problem is not money but persons: we cannot ask of money what only persons can do or create. Money alone does not create development. To create development there must be persons who have the courage to take the initiative.

To take the initiative means to develop an enterprise capable not only of technological innovation; there must also be a renewal of work relations, experiencing new ways of workers’ participation and responsibility, inventing new formulas of entrance in the world of work, creating a relation in solidarity between enterprise and territory. To take the initiative means to go beyond welfarism. To live this time intensely leads to bet on a different future and a different way of resolving problems. Here, too, I would like to give you an example. I was told about a father who has a son with Down’s syndrome. The father has done everything for this son and has made use of the services made available by social entities for his education, care and social life. However, he was not content with this. He wanted to think of something that would give his son more dignity and more autonomy. He invented a cooperative made up of boys with Down’s syndrome, he studied work adapted to them, he held a congress with company profits for the sale of their products …; in sum, he created the work premises with which his son can build his future and his healthy autonomy. It is an example of going beyond. To stop means to appeal to the State again and always or some aid entities; to move means to create new processes. And here is the secret: to create new processes and not ask to have new spaces given to us. These new processes are not the result of technical interventions; they are the results of a love that, solicited by the situations, is not content until it invents something and becomes an answer.

To take the initiative also means to consider love as the real force of change. To love one’s work, to be present in difficulties, to feel involved and to answer responsibly is to activate that love that each of us has in his heart, because the Spirit has given it to us. To take the initiative is the answer to that bit more which is typical of love. If we are within time with this bit more, this bit more of love, we will surely have something new that will foster the growth of goodness. With this vision of reality, it becomes almost natural to promote and develop talents.  To facilitate the expression and the growth of talents is what we are called to do and to do this it is necessary to open spaces – not to control spaces, but to open them. It is a question of circulating the capacities of intelligence, the abilities with which persons have been gifted. To free talents is the beginning of the change: this action makes one overcome envies, jealousies, rivalries, oppositions, closings, those preconceived closings, and it opens to a joy, to the joy of the new. Understood evidently, in speaking of talents is that the discourse concerns young people in particular. If we want to go beyond, we must invest resolutely in them and give them much trust. But I wonder: what is the percentage of young people today who are unemployed and without work? Does this mean to go beyond or to go back?

To change, it is necessary to go forward together and in the same direction. Someone might ask himself: “To go beyond, to take initiatives, to free spaces, to activate oneself, might this not create confusion?” We find the answer in the idea of time that the Bible transmits to us. Time is grace and fullness. To go beyond places is not the result of individual fortuitousness but of the sharing of an end: history is a journey towards fulfilment. If we move as a people, if we go forward together, our existence will evidence this meaning and this fullness.

I conclude by sending a heartfelt greeting to each one. I take the occasion to thank the Bishop of Verona, who is hosting this good initiative, and I express my sincere thanks to Don Vincenzi for having organized, also this year, the Festival of Social Doctrine, and I hope you will continue in this commitment to form a new social conscience. And, please, I ask you to pray for me. I bless you from my heart.

[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]