Pope Francis Laments that Working Women are Sometimes Told "No, no, you can't get pregnant" in Meeting with Entrepreneurs - FULL TEXT

Paul VI Hall
Monday, September 12, 2022

Dear entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs, good morning and welcome!
I thank the President for the greeting and introduction. I am pleased to be able to meet you and, through you, to address the world of entrepreneurs, who are an essential component for building the common good, are a primary engine of development and prosperity.
This time is not an easy time, for you and for everyone. The business world is also suffering a lot. The pandemic has severely tested many productive activities, the whole economic system has been wounded. And now the war in Ukraine has been added to the resulting energy crisis. In these crises, the good entrepreneur also suffers, who has responsibility for his company, for his jobs, and who feels uncertainties and risks about himself. In the market there are "mercenary" entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs similar to the good shepherd (cf. Jn 10: 11-18), who suffer the same sufferings as their workers, who do not flee from the many wolves that circle around. People know how to recognize good entrepreneurs. We also saw it recently, on the death of Alberto Balocco: the whole corporate and civil community was saddened and expressed their respect and gratitude.
From the very beginning, the Church has also welcomed merchants, precursors of modern entrepreneurs. In the Bible and in the Gospels there is talk of work, of commerce, and among the parables there are those that speak of coins, of landowners, of administrators, of purchased precious pearls. The merciful father in the Gospel of Luke (cf. 15: 11-32) is shown to us as a wealthy man, a landowner. The Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10: 30-35) could have been a merchant: it is he who takes care of the robbed and wounded man, and then entrusts him to another businessman, a hotelier. The "two denarii" that the Samaritan anticipates to the hotelier are very important: in the Gospel there are not only the thirty denarii of Judas; not just those. Indeed, the same money can be used, yesterday as today, to betray and sell a friend or to save a victim. We see it every day, when the money of Judas and those of the Good Samaritan coexist in the same markets, in the same stock exchanges, in the same squares. The economy grows and becomes human when the money of the Samaritans becomes more numerous than that of Judah.
But the life of entrepreneurs in the Church has not always been easy. The harsh words that Jesus uses towards the rich and riches, those about the camel and the eye of the needle (cf. Mt 19: 23-24), have at times been extended too quickly to every businessman and every merchant, assimilated to those sellers whom Jesus drove out of the temple (cf. Mt 21: 12-13). In reality, one can be a merchant, an entrepreneur, and be a follower of Christ, an inhabitant of his Kingdom. The question then becomes: what are the conditions for an entrepreneur to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? And I would like to point out some of them. It's not easy…
The first is sharing. Wealth, on the one hand, helps a lot in life; but it is also true that he often complicates it: not only because he can become an idol and a ruthless master who takes his whole life day after day. It also complicates it because wealth calls for responsibility: once I own assets, I have the responsibility to make them bear fruit, not to waste them, to use them for the common good. Then wealth creates around itself envy, backbiting, often violence and malice. Jesus tells us that it is very difficult for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. Difficult, yes, but not impossible (cf. Mt 19:26). And in fact we know of wealthy people who were part of the first community of Jesus, for example Zacchaeus of Jericho, Joseph of Arimathea, or some women who supported the apostles with their goods. In the first communities there were women and men who were not poor; and in the Church there have always been wealthy people who have followed the Gospel in an exemplary way: among these also entrepreneurs, bankers, economists, such as the Blessed Giuseppe Toniolo and Giuseppe Tovini. To enter the Kingdom of Heaven, not everyone is asked to undress like the merchant Francis of Assisi; some who possess wealth are asked to share them. Sharing is another name for evangelical poverty. And in fact the other great economic image that we find in the New Testament is the communion of goods narrated by the Acts of the Apostles: "The multitude of those who had become believers had one heart and one soul [...], between them everything was common […]. None of them was needy "(4,32-34).
How can we live this evangelical spirit of sharing today? The forms are different, and every entrepreneur can find his own, according to his personality and his creativity. One form of sharing is philanthropy, that is, giving to the community, in various ways. And here I want to thank you for your concrete support for the Ukrainian people, especially for displaced children, so that they can go to school; thank you! But very important is the modality that in the modern world and in democracies are taxes and duties, a form of sharing often does not happen. The fiscal pact is the heart of the social pact. Taxes are also a form of sharing wealth, so that it becomes common goods, public goods: school, health, rights, care, science, culture, heritage. Of course, taxes must be fair, equitable, fixed on the basis of each person's ability to pay, as stated in the Italian Constitution (see Article 53). The tax system and administration must be efficient and not corrupt. But taxes should not be considered as usurpation. They are a high form of sharing of goods, they are the heart of the social pact.
Another way of sharing is the creation of work, work for everyone, especially for young people. Young people need your trust, and you need young people, because businesses without young people lose innovation, energy and enthusiasm. Work has always been a form of communion of wealth: by hiring people you are already distributing your assets, you are already creating shared wealth. Each new job created is a dynamically shared slice of wealth. Here too lies the centrality of work in the economy and its great dignity. Today, technology risks making us forget this great truth, but if the new capitalism creates wealth without creating jobs, this great good function of wealth goes into crisis. And speaking of young people: when I meet the rulers, many tell me: "The problem of my country is that young people go out, because they have no chance". Creating jobs is a challenge and some countries are in crisis because of this lack. I ask you this favor: that here, in this country, thanks to your initiative, your courage, there are jobs, created above all for young people.
However, the problem of work cannot be solved if it remains anchored within the confines of the labor market alone: ​​it is the model of the social order to be questioned. What model of social order? And here we touch on the question of denatality. The birth rate, combined with the rapid aging of the population, is aggravating the situation for entrepreneurs, but also for the economy in general: the supply of workers decreases and the pension expenditure borne by public finance increases. It is urgent to support families and the birth rate in practice. We must work on this, to get out as soon as possible from the demographic winter in which Italy and other countries also live. It is a bad demographic winter, which goes against us and prevents us from this ability to grow. Today having children is, I would say, a patriotic question, also to carry the country forward.
Still on the subject of the birth rate: sometimes, a woman who is employed here or works there, is afraid of getting pregnant, because there is a reality - I am not saying between you - but there is a reality that as soon as you begin to see the belly, they chase it away. "No, no, you can't get pregnant." Please, this is a problem of working women: study it, see how to make a pregnant woman go on, both with the child she is expecting and with work. And again on the subject of work, there is another theme to highlight. Italy has a strong community and territorial vocation: work has always been considered within a broader social pact, where the company is an integral part of the community. The territory lives on the business and the business draws its nourishment from nearby resources, substantially contributing to the well-being of the places where it is located. In this regard, it should be emphasized the positive role that companies play on the reality of immigration, favoring constructive integration and enhancing skills that are essential for the survival of the company in the current context. At the same time it is necessary to strongly reaffirm the "no" to any form of exploitation of people and negligence in their safety. The problem of migrants: the migrant must be welcomed, accompanied, supported and integrated, and the way to integrate him is work. But if the migrant is rejected or simply used as a farmhand without rights, this is a great injustice and also hurts one's country.
I also like to remember that the entrepreneur himself is a worker. And that's cool huh! He does not live on income; the true entrepreneur lives from work, lives working, and remains an entrepreneur as long as he works. The good entrepreneur knows the workers because he knows the job. Many of you are artisan entrepreneurs, sharing the same daily toil and beauty as your employees. One of the serious crises of our time is the loss of contact of entrepreneurs with work: as they grow up, life spends in offices, meetings, travels, conferences, and one no longer goes to workshops and factories. You forget the "smell" of work. It's ugly. It is as it happens to us priests and bishops, when we forget the smell of the sheep, we are no longer shepherds, we are officials. You forget the smell of work, you can no longer recognize the products with your eyes closed by touching them; and when an entrepreneur no longer touches his products, he loses contact with the life of his business, and often his economic decline also begins. Contact, closeness, which is God's style: being close.
Creating work then generates a certain equality in your businesses and in society. It is true that there is a hierarchy in companies, it is true that there are different functions and wages, but wages must not be too different. Today the share of value that goes to work is too small, especially if we compare it with that which goes to financial income and the salaries of top managers. If the gap between the highest and lowest salaries becomes too wide, the corporate community falls ill, and soon society falls ill. Adriano Olivetti, a great colleague of yours from the last century, had established a limit on the distance between the highest and lowest salaries, because he knew that when wages and salaries are too different, the sense of belonging to a company is lost in the business community. common destiny, empathy and solidarity are not created between everyone; and so, faced with a crisis, the work community does not respond as it could respond, with serious consequences for everyone. The value you create depends on each and every one: it also depends on your creativity, talent and innovation, it also depends on everyone's cooperation, everyone's daily work. Because if it is true that every worker depends on his entrepreneurs and managers, it is also true that the entrepreneur depends on his workers, their creativity, their heart and their soul: we can say that it depends on their spiritual "capital", workers.
Dear friends, the great challenges of our society cannot be overcome without good entrepreneurs, and this is true. I encourage you to feel the urgency of our time, to be protagonists of this change of era. With your creativity and innovation, you can create a different economic system, where safeguarding the environment is a direct and immediate objective of your economic action. Without new entrepreneurs, the earth will not withstand the impact of capitalism, and we will leave a planet that is too wounded, perhaps unlivable, for the next generations. What we have done so far is not enough: please let us help each other to do more.
And I thank you for coming and I wish you all the best for you and your work. I cordially bless you together with your families. And please, I ask you not to forget to pray for me. Thank you!
Source: Vatican.va