Pope calls for new models of doing business — creating dignified work for all, upholding rights, decarbonizing our society/economy and protecting the environment

March 6, 2016

Key points of Cardinal Turkson’s speech at recent conference on The Future of the Corporation: From Best in the World to Best for the World:

  • Business leaders have a twin vocation of respecting human dignity and pursuing the common good.
  • Pope Francis calls the business community to this broadened sense of vocation and deepened exercise of responsibility, contributing to the common good by producing goods that are truly good and services that truly serve, generating sustainable wealth and distributing it justly.
  • Businesses make a contribution to the community by fostering the special dignity of human work. Employment is “part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment”.It is the duty of business to prioritize this goal of stable and secure employment.  This means that business must always subordinate profits to generating employment and people using their skills.
  • Businesses should ensure that their activities do not befoul the environment and violate human dignity. This calls a shift from a short-termist to a more sustainable perspective. Pope Francis calls for the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources to be fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations – only then can business activities be seen as ethical. Those who have contributed most to greenhouse gas emissions must be ever more honest about so-called externalities or spill-over effects, since finally nothing is outside of the accounts of our one shared common household.
  • Business is called upon to harness its creativity to solve pressing human needs, including move away from fossil fuels as soon as possible, with the goal of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the second half of the century. It is the role of business to deploy the finance, re-organization and technology needed to decarbonize the global economy.


Comments from Vatican (Cardinal Turkson and Pope Francis) in Davos on business

“There is a need to create new models of doing business which, while promoting the development of advanced technologies, are also capable of using them to create dignified work for all, to uphold and consolidate social rights, and to protect the environment.

Francis went on to make a special request, sending out an appeal to leaders: “Do not forget the poor!” This is the primary challenge before you as leaders in the business world.”  As Pope Francis said in his speech to the ruling class and the diplomatic corps in Bangui, Central African Republic, on 29 November 2015, “Those who have the means to enjoy a decent life, rather than being concerned with privileges, must seek to help those poorer than themselves to attain dignified living conditions, particularly through the development of their human, cultural, economic and social potential.”

Francis assured that “weeping for other people’s pain does not only mean sharing in their sufferings, but also and above all realizing that our own actions are a cause of injustice and inequality”. “Once we realize this, we become more fully human, since responsibility for our brothers and sisters is an essential part of our common humanity.”  The Pope urged: “Do not be afraid to open your minds and hearts to the poor. In this way, you will give free rein to your economic and technical talents, and discover the happiness of a full life, which consumerism of itself cannot provide.”


Francis: Christians must not stop at “that’s the way it’s always been done”

At this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House, Francis said that if we stop at “that’s the way it’s always been done, it means (their) hearts are “closed” and we/they succumb to “self-worship””; it means “life is half lived, patched up and mended with new things, added onto a structure that is not open to the voice of the Lord”… “This is what Jesus teaches us in the Gospel.” In other words: the doctors of the law criticize Him because His disciples do not fast as per tradition, to which Christ replies: “if we base or life on this principle: no one sows a rough piece of fabric onto an old piece of clothing because the new patch ruins the old material, worsening the tear; and no one pours new wine into old wineskins or the wine breaks the wineskins so that both wine and wineskin are lost. Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins!” What does this mean? “That the law changes? No!” the Pope explains.

“That the law is at the service of man and man is at the service of God, therefore man must have an open heart. To say: ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’ is to have a closed heart and Jesus says to us: ‘When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth’. If your heart is closed to the newness of the Spirit, you will never discover the complete truth and your Christian life will be a life half lived, patched up and mended with new things, added onto a structure that is not open to the voice of the Lord. Your heart is closed because you fail to replace the wineskins.”  “This,” Francis highlighted, “is the sin of many Christians who cling onto customary ways of doing things and in so doing, do not allow old wineskins to be replaced with new ones. And they end up with a life half lived, patched together, mended and meaningless.”

Francis clarified: sin “is a closed heart” that does not listen to the voice of the Lord that is not open to the newness of the Lord, to the Spirit that always surprises us”. For Samuel, rebellion is a “sin of divination”, while obstinacy equates to idolatry.

… So ‘which path should I follow Father?’: Open your heart to the Holy Spirit, discern what God’s will is.”  Francis continued by saying: “It was customary in Jesus’ time for the Israelites to fast. But then there is the Holy Spirit, which steers us towards the full truth. This is why He needs people to have open hearts, hearts that are not obstinately absorbed in the sin of self-worship, believing that what they think is more important than the surprise the Holy Spirit has in store for us.”

This is the message “the Church gives to us today. This is what Jesus stresses: “pour new wine into new wineskins”. Even old habits must change is we are to make room for the newness of the Spirit and the surprises God has in store for us.”  The Pope ended with the following wish: “May the Lord grant you the grace of an open heart, a heart that is open to the voice of the Spirit; that is able to discern what must remain unchanged because it constitutes a cornerstone and what must change in order to make us receptive to the newness of the Holy Spirit”.


There is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future

We have all been chosen by the Lord to be Baptized, to be part of His people, to be saints; we have been consecrated by the Lord on the path towards sainthood. Reading about this life, the life of a child – no. not a child, he was a boy – from boyhood to old age, during which he did many good things and others that were not so good. It makes me think that during the Christian journey, the journey the Lord has invited us to undertake, there is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future”.


Differences should spur dialogue and journey together toward ever greater unity, working to overcome old ideas and suspicions

In our dialogue, differences still remain in doctrine and in practice. This must not discourage us, but instead spur us along our journey towards ever greater unity, not least,” the Pope stressed, “by working to overcome old ideas and suspicions. In a world frequently torn by conflict and marked by secularism and indifference, we are called to join in professing our faith in Jesus Christ, and thus to become ever more credible witnesses of unity and promoters of peace and reconciliation. Dear brothers and sisters, I am also appreciative of your shared commitment to the care of creation, and I thank you for the symbolic sign of hospitality, which you have offered me in the name of Finnish people. In the hope that this visit will strengthen ever greater cooperation between your respective communities, I invoke upon all of you God’s abundant graces and I cordially offer you my blessing.”

During his visit to Rome’s Lutheran community last December, Jorge Mario Bergoglio made a significant remark about inter-communion in a speech delivered off the cuff… The Pope emphasised that the annual ecumenical pilgrimage to Rome for the Feast of St. Henrik, the country’s patron saint, “is an eloquent sign of the fact that, as Lutherans, Orthodox and Catholics, you have recognized what unites you and together you wish to bear witness to Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of unity”.