Pope Francis Tells Business Leaders "We must never forget that all our skills, including success in business, are gifts from God and "should be clearly oriented towards the development of others and the elimination of poverty..."

Paul VI Hall
Friday, 21 October 2022
In his address to business leaders and entrepreneurs gathered for the 27th World Congress of UNIAPAC, an international union of business executives, Pope Francis urges members to use their God-given gifts to work towards a more caring and inclusive economy.
Dear leaders and participants in the 27th UNIAPAC World Congress!
First of all I apologize for the delay. Thanks for your patience to wait for me! Today the appointments have taken longer than expected and I apologize for this.
I greet you and welcome you to this important meeting to reflect and strengthen your commitment to your noble vocation as entrepreneurs (cf. Enc. Laudato si ', 129). We must never forget that all our skills, including success in business, are gifts from God and "should be clearly oriented towards the development of others and the elimination of poverty, especially through the creation of diversified job opportunities" (Enc. Brothers all, 123). Change always requires courage. But true courage also asks us to know how to recognize divine grace in our life. Thus writes the psalmist: "Hope in the Lord, be strong, / may your heart be strengthened and hope in the Lord" (Psalm 27:14).
I pray that during these days together, and especially when you return to your homes and workplaces, you will always remain aware of God's grace and wisdom in your lives, and that you will allow him to guide and direct your relationships in the world of business and with those who work for you. "We are called to be creative in doing good, [...] using the goods of this world - not only material ones, but all the gifts we have received from the Lord - not to enrich ourselves, but to generate brotherly love and social friendship »(Angelus, September 18, 2022). Generate social friendship.
The theme of your Congress poses a great challenge to you and to many other players in the business world: Creating a new economy for the common good. There is no doubt that our world is in urgent need of "a different economy, one that makes us live and does not kill, includes and does not exclude, humanizes and does not dehumanize, takes care of creation and does not plunder it" [1]. In continuing to reflect on a new economy, but above all in starting to put it into practice, it is a question of keeping in mind that economic activity "must have all men and all peoples as its subject. Everyone has the right to participate in economic life and the duty to contribute, according to their abilities, to the progress of their country and of the entire human family [...]: it is a duty of solidarity and justice, but it is also the best way to to advance the whole of humanity ". [2]
Therefore, any "new economy for the common good" must be inclusive. Too often the slogan "leave no one behind" is uttered with no intention of offering the sacrifice and effort to truly turn these words into reality. In his Encyclical Populorum progressio, Saint Paul VI wrote: “Development is not reduced to simple economic growth. To be authentic development, it must be integral, which means aimed at the promotion of every man and of the whole man "(n. 14). In fulfilling your profession, you, business executives and entrepreneurs, are called to act as a leaven to ensure that development reaches all people, but above all those most marginalized, most in need, so that the economy can always contribute to growth. integral human. In this regard, let us not forget the important contribution offered by the informal sector during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. During the lockdown for most of society, informal workers ensured the supply and delivery of the goods necessary for the daily life and care of our most fragile loved ones, and maintained basic economic activities despite the disruption of many formal activities.
Indeed, “we are called to prioritize our response to workers on the fringes of the labor market, [...] low-skilled workers, day workers, those in the informal sector, migrant and refugee workers, how many do what is usually called "the work of the three dimensions": dangerous, dirty and degrading, and the list could go on ». [3]
We also set aside the idea that the inclusion of the poor and marginalized can be met by our efforts to provide financial and material assistance. As it is written in Laudato si ', "helping the poor with money must always be a temporary remedy for dealing with emergencies. The real objective should be to allow them a dignified life through work "(n. 128). In fact, the door to the dignity of a man is work. It is not enough to bring the bread home, it is necessary to earn the bread that I bring home.
Work must be understood and respected as a process that goes far beyond the commercial exchange between employer and employee. First and foremost "part of the meaning of life on this earth, a way of maturation, human development and personal fulfillment" (ibid.). Work "is an expression of our being created in the image and likeness of God, the worker (cf. Gen 2: 3). […] We have been called to work since our creation ”, [4] imitating God who is the first worker.
Such work should be well integrated into a care economy. «Care can be understood as taking care of people and nature, offering products and services for the growth of the common good. An economy that takes care of work, creating employment opportunities that do not exploit the worker through degrading working conditions and exhausting hours ". [5] Here we are not referring only to work related to assistance. «Care goes further, it must be a dimension of every job. A job that does not take care, that destroys creation, that endangers the survival of future generations, is not respectful of the dignity of workers and cannot be considered dignified. On the contrary, caring work contributes to the restoration of full human dignity, will help to ensure a sustainable future for future generations. And in this dimension of care, workers come first ”. [6]
To conclude, I would like to share with you the "good news" that recently, in the city of Assisi, where St. Francis and the first friars embraced poverty and proposed a new radical economy to the economic leaders of their time, a thousand young economists and entrepreneurs have reasoned about creation of a new economy and have written and signed a Pact to reform the global economic system in order to improve the lives of all people. I would like to share with you some of the main points, for two reasons: first, because too often young people are excluded; second, because creativity and “new” thinking often come from young people; and we, older people, must have the courage to stop and listen to them. As young people must listen to the elderly, we all must listen to the young. For a new economy of the common good, these young people have proposed an "economy of the Gospel", which, among other things, includes:
· An economy of peace and not of war - think about how much is spent on the manufacture of weapons;
· An economy that takes care of creation and does not plunder it - let's think of deforestation;
· An economy at the service of the person, the family and life, respectful of every woman, man, child, elderly person and above all of the most fragile and vulnerable;
· An economy where care replaces waste and indifference;
· An economy that leaves no one behind, to build a society in which the stones discarded by the dominant mentality become cornerstones;
· An economy that recognizes and protects decent and safe work for all;
· An economy in which finance is a friend and ally of the real economy and of work, and not against them [7] - because finance has the danger of making the economy "liquid", indeed "gaseous"; and proceeding with this liquidity and gaseousness, it ends up like the chain of Saint Anthony!
Today, there are hundreds, thousands, millions and possibly billions of young people struggling to access formal economic systems, or even just to get access to their first paid job where they can put academic knowledge, skills, energy and energy into practice. enthusiasm. I would like to encourage you, mature and successful business leaders and entrepreneurs, to consider a new alliance with the young people who have created and committed themselves to this Pact. It is true that young people always bring you problems, but they have the nose to show the true path. To walk with them, teach them and learn from them; and, together, give shape to "a new economy for the common good".
Thank you for what you do, thank you for being here. I bless this journey that you will take, that you are making, and I bless each of you and your families. And you too, please, don't forget to pray for me. Thank you!
[1] Message to the participants in “Economy of Francesco”, 1 May 2019.
[2] Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 333.
[3] Video message on the occasion of the 109th Meeting of the Conference of the International Labor Organization (ILO), June 17, 2021.
[4] Message to the participants in the 108th session of the International Labor Conference, 10-21 June 2019.
[5] Video message for the 7th world day of prayer and reflection against human trafficking, 8 February 2021.
[6] Message to the participants in the 109th session of the International Labor Conference, June 17, 2021.
[7] Pact for the economy of the participants in Economy of Francesco, Assisi, 24 September 2022.