Pope Francis says " A new economy, inspired by Francis of Assisi, today can and must be an earth-friendly economy, an economy of peace." on Visit to Assisi for Economy of Francesco - FULL TEXT

 Pala-Events of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi)
Saturday, September 24, 2022
Dearest and dearest young people, good morning! I greet all of you who have come, who have had the opportunity to be here, but I would also like to greet all those who have not been able to arrive here, who have stayed at home: a reminder to all! We are all united: they from their place, we here.
I have been waiting for this moment for over three years, ever since, on May 1st 2019, I wrote you the letter that called you and then brought you here to Assisi. For many of you - we have just heard it - the encounter with the Economy of Francis awakened something that you already had inside. You were already busy creating a new economy; that letter brought you together, gave you a broader horizon, made you feel part of a world community of young people who had the same vocation as you. And when a young man sees in another young man his own calling, and then this experience is repeated with hundreds, thousands of other young people, then great things become possible, even hoping to change a huge system, a complex system like the world economy. . Indeed, today almost talking about economics seems like an old thing: today we talk about finance, and finance is a watery thing, a gaseous thing, you cannot take it. Once, a good world economist told me that she had an experience of encounter between economics, humanism and religion. And that meeting went well. She wanted to do the same with finance and she failed. Beware of this gassiness of finances: you must resume economic activity from the roots, from human roots, as they have been done.

You young people, with God's help, you know how to do it, you can do it; young people have done many things at other times in the course of history.
You are living your youth in a difficult time: the environmental crisis, then the pandemic and now the war in Ukraine and the other wars that have continued for years in various countries, are marking our lives. Our generation has bequeathed to you many riches, but we have not been able to guard the planet and we are not guarding peace. When you hear that the fishermen of San Benedetto del Tronto in a year have pulled 12 tons of dirt and plastic and so on out of the sea, you see how we do not know how to protect the environment. And consequently we don't even keep peace. You are called to become artisans and builders of the common home, a common home that "is going to ruin". Let's face it: that's it. A new economy, inspired by Francis of Assisi, today can and must be an earth-friendly economy, an economy of peace. It is a question of transforming an economy that kills (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 53) into an economy of life, in all its dimensions. Getting to that "good life", which is not the sweet life or spending it well, no. Good living is that mysticism that the aboriginal peoples teach us to have in relation to the earth.
I appreciated your choice to model this meeting in Assisi on prophecy. I liked what you said about the prophecies. The life of Francis of Assisi, after his conversion, was a prophecy, which continues even in our time. In the Bible, prophecy has a lot to do with young people. Samuel when he was called was a child, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were young; Daniel was a boy when he prophesied Susanna's innocence and saved her from death (cf. Dn 13: 45-50); and the prophet Joel announces to the people that God will pour out his Spirit and "your sons and your daughters will become prophets" (3,1). According to the Scriptures, young people carry a spirit of science and intelligence. It was the young David who humiliated the arrogance of the giant Goliath (cf. 1 Sam 17.49-51). In fact, when the civil community and businesses lack the skills of young people, the whole of society withers, everyone's life is extinguished. Lack of creativity, lack of optimism, lack of enthusiasm, lack of courage to take risks. A society and an economy without young people are sad, pessimistic, cynical. If you want to see this, go to these ultra-specialized universities in liberal economics, and look at the faces of the young men and women studying there. But thank God you are there: not only will you be there tomorrow, you are there today; you are not only the "not yet", you are also the "already", you are the present.
An economy that is inspired by the prophetic dimension is expressed today in a new vision of the environment and the earth. We must go to this harmony with the environment, with the earth. There are many people, companies and institutions that are making an ecological conversion. We must continue along this path, and do more. This "more" you are doing and you are asking everyone. Make-up is not enough, the development model must be questioned. The situation is such that we cannot just wait for the next international summit, which may not help: the earth is burning today, and it is today that we must change, at all levels. In this last year you have been working on the economics of plants, an innovative theme. You have seen that the plant paradigm contains a different approach to the earth and the environment. Plants know how to cooperate with the whole surrounding environment, and even when they compete, they are actually cooperating for the good of the ecosystem. We learn from the mildness of plants: their humility and silence can offer us a different style that we urgently need. Because, if we talk about ecological transition but remain within the economic paradigm of the twentieth century, which plundered natural resources and the earth, the maneuvers we will adopt will always be insufficient or sick at the roots. The Bible is full of trees and plants, from the tree of life to the mustard seed. And St. Francis helps us with his cosmic brotherhood with all living creatures. We men, in the last two centuries, have grown at the expense of the earth. She was the one who footed the bill! We have often plundered it to increase our well-being, and not even the well-being of all, but of a small group. This is the time for a new courage in abandoning fossil energy sources, to accelerate the development of zero or positive impact sources.
And then we have to accept the universal ethical principle - which we don't like - that damage must be repaired. This is an ethical, universal principle: damage must be repaired. If we grew up abusing the planet and the atmosphere, today we must also learn to make sacrifices in lifestyles that are still unsustainable. Otherwise, our children and grandchildren will be paying the bill, a bill that will be too high and too unfair. I heard a very important scientist in the world, six months ago, who said: “Yesterday I was born a granddaughter. If we continue like this, you poor thing, within thirty years you will have to live in an uninhabitable world ". The children and grandchildren will pay the bill, a bill that will be too high and too unfair. Quick and decisive change is needed. I mean this seriously: I'm counting on you! Please, don't leave us alone, give us an example! And I tell you the truth: to live on this path it takes courage and sometimes it takes a little bit of heroism. I heard, in a meeting, a 25-year-old boy, who had just come out as a high-level engineer, could not find a job; in the end he found it in an industry that he didn't really know what he was; when he studied what he had to do - without a job, in a position to work - he refused, because they made the weapons. These are the heroes of today, these.
Sustainability, then, is a multi-dimensional word. In addition to the environmental one, there are also the social, relational and spiritual dimensions. The social one slowly begins to be recognized: we are realizing that the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth are the same cry (cf. Enc. Laudato si ', 49). Therefore, when we work for ecological transformation, we must keep in mind the effects that some environmental choices have on poverty. Not all environmental solutions have the same effects on the poor, and therefore those that reduce misery and inequalities should be preferred. While we try to save the planet, we cannot neglect the man and woman who suffer. The pollution that kills is not only that of carbon dioxide, also inequality deadly pollutes our planet. We cannot allow the new environmental calamities to wipe out the ancient and ever-present calamities of social injustice, including political injustices, from public opinion. Let's think, for example, of political injustice; the poor battered people of the Rohingya who wander from one side to the other because they cannot live in their own homeland: a political injustice.
Then there is an unsustainability of our relationships: in many countries, people's relationships are becoming impoverished. Especially in the West, communities are becoming increasingly fragile and fragmented. The family, in some regions of the world, is suffering from a serious crisis, and with it the welcome and care of life. Current consumerism seeks to fill the void of human relationships with ever more sophisticated commodities - loneliness is big business in our time! -, but thus generates a famine of happiness. And this is a bad thing. Think of the demographic winter, for example, how it relates to all this. The demographic winter where all countries are decreasing greatly, because they do not have children, but it is more important to have an emotional relationship with dogs, with cats and go on like this. We must resume procreating. But also in this demographic winter line there is the slavery of women: a woman who cannot be a mother because as soon as she begins to rise in her belly, she is fired; pregnant women are not always allowed to work.
Finally, there is a spiritual unsustainability of our capitalism. The human being, created in the image and likeness of God, before being a seeker of goods is a seeker of meaning. We are all seekers of meaning. This is why the primary capital of every society is the spiritual one, because it is what gives us the reasons to get up every day and go to work, and generates that joy of living that is also necessary for the economy. Our world is rapidly consuming this essential form of capital accumulated over the centuries by religions, by wisdom traditions, by popular piety. And so above all young people suffer from this lack of meaning: often faced with the pain and uncertainties of life they find themselves with a soul impoverished of spiritual resources to process suffering, frustration, disappointment and grief. Look at the percentage of youth suicides, how it has risen: and they don't publish them all, they hide the figure. The fragility of many young people derives from the lack of this precious spiritual capital - I say: do you have spiritual capital? Everyone answers inside - an invisible capital but more real than financial or technological capital. There is an urgent need to reconstitute this essential spiritual heritage. Technique can go a long way; it teaches us the "what" and the "how" to do: but it does not tell us the "why"; and thus our actions become sterile and do not fill life, not even economic life.
Finding myself in the city of Francesco, I cannot help but dwell on poverty. Doing economics inspired by him means making a commitment to put the poor at the center. Starting from them look at the economy, starting from them look at the world. Without esteem, care, love for the poor, for every poor person, for every fragile and vulnerable person, from conceived in the womb to the sick and disabled person, to the elderly in difficulty, there is no "Economy of Francesco ". I would say more: a Francis economy cannot be limited to working for or with the poor. As long as our system produces waste and we operate according to this system, we will be complicit in an economy that kills. So let's ask ourselves: are we doing enough to change this economy, or are we content with painting a wall by changing color, without changing the structure of the house? It is not a question of paint strokes, no: you have to change the structure. Perhaps the answer is not in what we can do, but in how we manage to open new paths so that the poor themselves can become the protagonists of change. In this sense there are very great experiences, very developed in India and in the Philippines.
St. Francis loved not only the poor, he also loved poverty. This austere way of life, let's put it this way. Francis went to the lepers not so much to help them, he went because he wanted to become poor like them. Following Jesus Christ, he stripped himself of everything to be poor with the poor. Well, the first market economy was born in the 13th century in Europe in daily contact with the Franciscan friars, who were friends of those first merchants. That economy created wealth, sure, but it didn't despise poverty. Creating wealth without despising poverty. Our capitalism, on the other hand, wants to help the poor but does not esteem them, does not understand the paradoxical beatitude: "blessed are the poor" (cf. Lk 6:20). We must not love misery, on the contrary we must fight it, first of all by creating work, worthy work. But the Gospel tells us that without esteeming the poor, no misery can be fought. And it is instead from here that we must start, even you entrepreneurs and economists: inhabiting these evangelical paradoxes of Francis. When I talk to people or confess, I always ask: "Do you give alms to the poor?" - "Yes Yes Yes!" - "And when you give alms to the poor, do you look him in her eyes?" - "Eh, I don't know ..." - "And when you give alms, do you throw the coin or touch the poor man's hand?". They do not look at the eyes and do not touch; and this is a moving away from the spirit of poverty, moving away from the true reality of the poor, moving away from the humanity that every human relationship must have. Someone will say to me: “Papa, are we late, when are you finished?”: I am ending now.
And in the light of this reflection, I would like to leave you three indications of the way forward.
The first: looking at the world through the eyes of the poorest. The Franciscan movement was able to invent the first economic theories in the Middle Ages and even the first solidarity banks (the "Monti di Pietà"), because it looked at the world with the eyes of the poorest. You too will improve the economy if you look at things from the perspective of the victims and the discarded. But to have the eyes of the poor and the victims, one must know them, one must be their friend. And, believe me, if you become friends with the poor, if you share their life, you will also share something of the Kingdom of God, because Jesus said that the Kingdom of heaven is theirs, and for this reason they are blessed (cf.Lk 6:20). And I repeat: that your daily choices do not produce waste.
The second: you are above all students, scholars and entrepreneurs, but don't forget about work, don't forget about workers. The work of the hands. Work is already the challenge of our time, and it will be even more the challenge of tomorrow. Without worthy and well-paid work, young people do not truly become adults, inequalities increase. Sometimes you can survive without work, but you don't live well. So, as you create goods and services, don't forget to create jobs, good jobs and jobs for everyone.
The third indication is: incarnation. In the crucial moments of history, those who were able to leave a good imprint did so because he translated ideals, desires, values ​​into concrete works. That is, he embodied them. In addition to writing and holding conferences, these men and women have given birth to schools and universities, banks, trade unions, cooperatives, institutions. You will change the world of economics if you also use your hands together with your heart and head. The three languages. We think: the head, the language of thought, but not only, combined with the language of feeling, of the heart. And not only that: combined with the language of the hands. And you have to do what you feel and think, feel what you do and think what you feel and do. This is the union of the three languages. Ideas are necessary, they attract us a lot especially as young people, but they can turn into traps if they do not become "flesh", that is concreteness, daily commitment: the three languages. Ideas alone get sick and we will end up in orbit, all of them, if they are just ideas. Ideas are necessary, but they must become "flesh". The Church has always rejected the gnostic temptation - gnosis, that of the idea alone -, which thinks of changing the world only with a different knowledge, without the fatigue of the flesh. The works are less "luminous" than the great ideas, because they are concrete, particular, limited, with light and shadow together, but they fertilize the earth day after day: reality is superior to the idea (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 233 ). Dear young people, reality is always superior to the idea: pay attention to this.
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for your commitment: thank you. Go ahead, with the inspiration and intercession of St. Francis. And I - if you agree - would like to conclude with a prayer. I read it and you follow it with your heart:
Father, we ask your forgiveness for having seriously wounded the earth, for not respecting indigenous cultures, for not having esteemed and loved the poorest, for having created wealth without communion. Living God, who with your Spirit inspired the hearts, arms and minds of these young people and sent them to a promised land, look with kindness at their generosity, their love, their desire to spend their lives for a great ideal. Bless them, Father, in their enterprises, in their studies, in their dreams; accompany them in difficulties and sufferings, help them to transform them into virtue and wisdom. Support their desires for good and life, support them in their disappointments in the face of bad examples, do not let them get discouraged and continue on their journey. You, whose only-begotten Son became a carpenter, give them the joy of transforming the world with love, ingenuity and hands. Amen.
And thanks a lot.