Pope Francis on Economy says “The main message of hope I want to share with you is precisely this: these are solvable problems, not ones from a lack of resources."


Pius IV Casina
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I want to express my gratitude for this meeting. Let us take advantage of this new beginning of the year to build bridges, bridges that favor the development of a solidarity look from banks, finances, governments and economic decisions. We need many voices capable of thinking, from a polyhedral perspective, the diverse dimensions of a global problem that affects our peoples and our democracies.

I would like to start with a factual fact. The world is rich and yet the poor increase around us. According to official reports, this year's global income will be almost $ 12,000 per capita. However, hundreds of millions of people are still mired in extreme poverty and lack food, housing, medical care, schools, electricity, drinking water and adequate and essential sanitation services. It is estimated that approximately five million children under 5 this year will die from poverty. Another 260 million children, will lack education due to lack of resources, due to wars and migrations. This in a rich world, because the world is rich.

This situation has led to millions of people being victims of trafficking and new forms of slavery, such as forced labor, prostitution and organ trafficking. They do not have any rights and guarantees; They can't even enjoy friendship or family.

These realities should not be cause for despair, no, but for action. They are realities that move us to do something.

The main message of hope that I want to share with you is precisely this: these are solvable problems and not lack of resources. There is no determinism that condemns us to universal inequity. Let me repeat: we are not doomed to universal inequity. This enables a new way of assuming events, which allows finding and generating creative responses to the avoidable suffering of so many innocents; which implies accepting that, in not a few situations, we face a lack of will and decision to change things and mainly priorities. We are asked for the ability to let ourselves be questioned, to drop the scales of the eyes and see these realities with a new light, a light that moves us to action.

A rich world and a vibrant economy can and should end poverty. Dynamics capable of including, feeding, healing and dressing the last of society can be generated and stimulated instead of excluding them. We must choose what and to whom to prioritize: if we favor humanizing socio-economic mechanisms for the whole society or, on the contrary, we foster a system that ends up justifying certain practices that all they achieve is to increase the level of injustice and social violence. The level of wealth and technique accumulated by humanity, as well as the importance and value that human rights have acquired, no longer allows excuses. We have to be aware that we are all responsible. This does not mean that we are all guilty, no; We are all responsible for doing something.

If there is extreme poverty in the midst of wealth - also extreme wealth - it is because we have allowed the gap to widen to become the largest in history. These are almost official data: the 50 richest people in the world have an equity equivalent to 2.2 billion dollars. Those fifty people alone could finance the medical care and education of every poor child in the world, whether through taxes, philanthropic initiatives or both. Those fifty people could save millions of lives every year.

I have called the indifference globalization "inaction." Saint John Paul II called it: structures of sin. Such structures find an atmosphere conducive to their expansion every time the common good is reduced or limited to certain sectors or, in the case that brings us together, when the economy and finance become an end in themselves. It is the idolatry of money, greed and speculation. And this reality now added to the exponential technological vertigo, which increases the speed of transactions and the possibility of producing concentrated gains without ever being linked to production processes or the real economy. Virtual communication favors this kind of thing.
Aristotle celebrates the invention of currency and its use, but strongly condemns financial speculation because in this "money itself becomes productive, losing its true purpose which is to facilitate trade and production" (Politics, I, 10 , 1258 b).

In a similar way and following the reason enlightened by faith, the Church's social doctrine celebrates the forms of government and banks - often created under its protection: it is interesting to see the history of the mountains of piety, of the banks created to favor and collaborate - when they fulfill their purpose, which is, in short, to seek the common good, social justice, peace, as well as the integral development of each individual, of each human community and of all people. However, the Church warns that these beneficial institutions, both public and private, can decay into structures of sin. I am using the qualification of Saint John Paul II.

Sin structures today include repeated tax cuts for the richest people, often justified in the name of investment and development; tax havens for private and corporate profits; and, of course, the possibility of corruption by some of the largest companies in the world, not a few times in tune with some ruling political sector.

Every year hundreds of billions of dollars, which should be paid in taxes to finance medical care and education, accumulate in tax haven accounts thus preventing the possibility of decent and sustained development of all social actors.

Poor people in heavily indebted countries bear overwhelming tax burdens and cuts in social services, as their governments pay debts incurred insensibly and unsustainably. In fact, the public debt contracted, in not a few cases to boost and encourage the economic and productive development of a country, can become a factor that damages and damages the social fabric. When it ends oriented towards another purpose.

Just as there is a co-irresponsibility regarding this damage caused to the economy and society, there is also an inspiring and hopeful co-responsibility to create a climate of fraternity and renewed confidence that embraces together the search for innovative and humanizing solutions .

It is good to remember that there is no magic or invisible law that condemns us to freezing or paralysis in the face of injustice. And even less there is an economic rationality that supposes that the human person is simply an accumulator of individual benefits outside their condition of being social.

The moral demands of St. John Paul II in 1991 are surprisingly current today: «It is certainly fair that the debts must be paid. It is not lawful, on the other hand, to demand or claim payment when it would come to impose such political options that would lead to hunger and despair over entire populations. It cannot be pretended that the debts incurred are paid with unbearable sacrifices. In these cases it is necessary - as, for the rest, it is happening in part - to find ways to reduce, delay or extinguish the debt, compatible with the fundamental right of peoples to subsistence and progress ”(Letter enc. Centesimus Annus , 35).

In fact, the Sustainable Development Goals unanimously approved by all nations also recognize this point - it is a human point - and urge all peoples to “help developing countries achieve long-term debt sustainability to through coordinated policies aimed at promoting debt financing, debt relief and debt restructuring, as appropriate, and addressing the external debt problem of heavily indebted poor countries to reduce debt distress »(Objective 17.4).

This must consist of the new forms of solidarity that call us today, which summon us here, if you think about the world of banks and finance: in helping the development of the postponed peoples and leveling among the countries that enjoy of a certain standard and level of development with those unable to guarantee the necessary minimums to their inhabitants. Solidarity and economy for the union, not for the division with the healthy and clear awareness of co-responsibility.
Practically it is necessary to affirm that the greatest structure of sin, or the greatest structure of injustice, is the same industry of war, since it is money and time at the service of division and death. The world loses billions of dollars in armaments and violence every year, amounts that would end poverty and illiteracy if they could be redirected. Truly, Isaiah spoke in the name of God for all mankind when he foresaw the day of the Lord when "with swords they will forge plows and with pruning spears" (Is 2,4). Let's follow it!

More than seventy years ago, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights committed all its Member States to take care of the poor in their land and home, and throughout the world; that is, in the common house, everyone is the common house. Governments recognized that social protection, basic income, medical care for all and universal education were inherent in fundamental human dignity and, therefore, in fundamental human rights.

These economic rights and a safe environment for all are the most basic measure of human solidarity. And the good news is that while in 1948 these goals were not immediately available, today, with a much more developed and interconnected world, they are. Progress has been made on this.

You, who have kindly gathered here, are the financial leaders and economic specialists of the world. Together with their colleagues, they help establish global tax rules, inform the global public about our economic condition and advise the world's governments on budgets. They know firsthand what are the injustices of our current global economy, or the injustices of each country.

Let's work together to end these injustices. When the multilateral credit agencies advise the different nations, it is important to take into account the high concepts of fiscal justice, the public budgets responsible for their indebtedness and, above all, the effective and leading promotion of the poorest in the social framework . Remind them of their responsibility to provide development assistance to impoverished nations and debt relief for heavily indebted nations. Remind them of the imperative to stop man-made climate change, as all nations have promised, so that we do not destroy the foundations of our Common House.

A new ethic means being aware of the need for everyone to commit to work together to close the fiscal lairs, avoid evasions and money laundering that steal from society, as well as tell the nations the importance of defending the justice and the common good over the interests of the most powerful companies and multinationals - which end up suffocating and preventing local production. The present tense demands and demands the passage of an insular and antagonistic logic as the only authorized mechanism for the solution to the conflicts, to another logic, capable of promoting the interconnection that propitiates a culture of the encounter, where the solid bases of a New international financial architecture.

In this context where the development of some social and financial sectors reached levels never seen before, how important it is to remember the words of the Gospel of Luke: "To him who is given much, much will be demanded" (12,39). How inspiring it is to listen to St. Ambrose, who thinks with the Gospel: «You [rich] do not give your thing to the poor [when you do charity], but you are giving him what is his. Well, the common property given in use for all, you are using by yourself »(Naboth 12,53). This is the principle of the universal destiny of goods, the basis of economic and social justice, as well as the common good.

I'm glad your presence here today. We celebrate the opportunity to know ourselves as partners in the work of the Lord that can change the course of history for the benefit of the dignity of each person today and tomorrow, especially for the excluded and for the good of peace. We strive together with humility and wisdom to serve international and intergenerational justice. We have unlimited hope in Jesus' teaching that the poor in spirit are blessed and happy, because theirs is the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5,3) that begins here and now.

Thank you! And, please, I am going to make an order, it is not a loan: Do not forget to pray for me, because this job is not easy for me to do and I on you invoke all the blessings, on you and your work .
Full Text + Image Source: Vatican.va - UnOfficial Translation -