The Centesimus Annus pro-Pontefice Foundation is holding an international conference dedicated to the theme “Business initiative in the fight against poverty” from 12 to 14 May, in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall. Established by St. John Paul II in 1993, the Foundation seeks to collaborate in the study and dissemination of Christian social doctrine, as presented in particular in the encyclical “Centesimus Annus”.
On 13 May, the Pope emphasized that the fight against poverty is not only an economic problem, but above all a moral question, that “unemployment…has become a full-fledged “social ill”.
“I am grateful for your readiness to bring your expertise and experience to the discussion of these critical humanitarian issues and the moral obligations that they entail. In addition to the immediate and practical aspects of providing material relief to our brothers and sisters, the international community,” the Pope said, “is challenged to devise long-term political, social and economic responses to issues that transcend national and continental boundaries, and affect the entire human family.”
The Pope went on to say that the fight against poverty “is not just an economic problem but above all a moral problem that requires global solidarity and fairer approach towards the needy and the aspirations of individuals and peoples across the world,” said Jorge Mario Bergoglio, recalling what St. John Paul II said, in other words that “economic activity cannot be conducted in an institutional or political vacuum, but has an essential ethical component; it must always stand at the service of the human person and the universal common good. An economic vision geared to profit and material well-being alone is – as experience is daily showing us – incapable of contributing in a positive way to a globalization that favours the integral development of the world’s peoples, a just distribution of the earth’s resources, the guarantee of dignified labour and the encouragement of private initiative and local enterprise. An economy of exclusion and inequality (has led to greater numbers of the disenfranchised and those discarded as unproductive and useless.”
“The effects are felt even in our more developed societies, in which the growth of relative poverty and social decay represent a serious threat to families, the shrinking middle class and in a particular way our young people. The rates of unemployment for the young are not only a scandal needing to be addressed first and foremost in economic terms, but also, and no less urgently,” Francis underlined, “as a social ill, for our youth are being robbed of hope and their great resources of energy, creativity and vision are being squandered.”
The Pope ended his speech expressing his hope that the conference organised by the foundation created in 1993 “will contribute to generating new models of economic progress more clearly directed to the universal common good, inclusion and integral development, the creation of labour and investment in human resources. The Second Vatican Council rightly pointed out that,
For Christians, economic, financial and business activity cannot be separated from the duty to strive for the perfecting of the temporal order in accordance with the values of God’s Kingdom. Yours is in fact a vocation at the service of human dignity and the building of a world of authentic solidarity. Enlightened and inspired by the Gospel, and in fruitful cooperation with the local Churches and their pastors, as well as other believers and people of good will, may your work always contribute to the growth of that civilization of love which embraces the entire human family in justice and peace.”