Audience with the members of the Confederation of Italian Cooperatives,
At 11.40 am this morning, in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father Francis received the members of the Confederation of Italian Cooperatives at the Audience, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its foundation.
Vatican.va Release of speech that the Pope addressed to those present during the meeting:
Speech of the Holy Father
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Welcome you all! I thank your President for the words he addressed to me, in particular for the synthesis he has made of your work and your commitment: he has also grasped what is dear to me, giving us a wise vision of the current context in which we live. And I also thank you for the testimony given by a cooperative that has been able to move forward.
Your one hundred year history of action is an important goal, which cannot pass over in silence. They represent a path to be grateful for all that you have succeeded in achieving, inspired by the great appeal of the encyclical Rerum novarum of Pope Leo XIII. In a prophetic way this Pontiff has opened the great reflection on the social doctrine of the Church. His was an intuition that flourished on the conviction that the Gospel cannot be relegated only to a part of man or society, but speaks to all mankind, to make it more and more human. Those in which Pope Leo wrote were difficult times, but every age has its labors and its difficulties.
Your story is precious because it comes from having taken the Pope's words seriously and by having made them concrete through a serious and generous commitment that has lasted a century. It is a strong sign of hope when the social doctrine of the Church does not remain a dead word or an abstract discourse, but becomes life thanks to men and women of good will, who give it flesh and concreteness, transforming it into concrete personal and social gestures, visible and useful.
Even today the Church does not just need to say the truth out loud; he always needs men and women who transform what the shepherds preach and theologians teach into concrete goods. In this sense, today, saying "thank you" to you for your one hundred years of commitment is also an example for the men of our time, who need to discover themselves not only "takers" of good, but "entrepreneurs" of charity.
Your cooperative model, precisely because it is inspired by the social doctrine of the Church, corrects certain tendencies typical of collectivism and statism, which are sometimes lethal to private initiatives; and at the same time, it curbs the temptations of individualism and selfishness typical of liberalism. In fact, while the capitalist enterprise aims primarily at profit, the cooperative enterprise has as its primary purpose the balanced and proportionate satisfaction of social needs. Certainly the cooperative must also aim to produce profits, to be effective and efficient in its economic activity, but all this without losing sight of mutual solidarity.
For this reason the model of social cooperative is one of the new sectors on which cooperation is now concentrated, because it manages to combine, on the one hand, the logic of the company and, on the other, that of solidarity: internal solidarity towards its members and external solidarity towards the recipients. This way of living the cooperative model already exerts a significant influence on companies too tied to the logic of profit, because it pushes them to discover and evaluate the impact of a social responsibility. In this way, they are invited to consider not only the economic budget, but also the social one, realizing that it is necessary to contribute to responding to the needs of those involved in the enterprise as well as those of the territory and the community. It is in this way that cooperative work carries out its prophetic function and social witness in the light of the Gospel.
But we must never forget that this vision of cooperation, based on relationships and not on profit, goes against the tide with respect to the mentality of the world. Only if we discover that our true wealth is relationships and not mere material goods, then we find alternative ways to live and live in a society that is not governed by the god of money, an idol that deceives it and then leaves it more and more inhuman and unjust, and even, I would say, poorer.
Thank you for your hard work, which believes in cooperation and expresses the obstinacy to remain human in a world that wants to commodify everything. And on the obstinacy we felt this sister of ours who gave witness today: it takes obstinacy to move forward on this road when the logic of the world goes in another direction. I thank you for your obstinacy ..., and this is not a sin! Go on like this.