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The Pope with members of the Confederation of Italian Cooperatives The Pope with members of the Confederation of Italian Cooperatives  (Vatican Media)

Pope: ‘Miracle’ of cooperation based on relationships not profit

“The ‘miracle’ of cooperation is a team strategy that opens a gap in the wall of an indifferent crowd that excludes the weakest.” Those were Pope Francis’ words on Saturday to 7,000 members of the Confederation of Italian Cooperatives, on the 100th anniversary of its foundation.

The Pope told the Confederation in the Paul VI Hall on Saturday that its cooperative model, corrects certain tendencies associated with collectivism and statism, which at times are lethal to private initiative; and at the same time, it curbs the temptations of individualism and selfishness associated with liberalism. The reason for this, the Pope pointed out, is because it’s a model “inspired by the social doctrine of the Church”.

True wealth is in relationships

The Pontiff underlined to those gathered that, a “vision of cooperation, based on relationships and not on profit, runs counter to the mentality of the world. Only by discovering that our true wealth is in relationships and not mere material goods, he said, can we find alternative ways of living in a society that is not governed by the god of money, an idol who deludes and then leaves one increasingly inhuman and unjust.”

Overcoming loneliness with cooperation

The most important and obvious advantage of cooperation, the Pope stressed, “is overcoming the loneliness that turns life into hell. When man feels alone, he experiences hell. When, on the other hand, he feels that he is not being abandoned, then it is possible to face all kinds of difficulties and weariness…” “For this reason”, Pope Francis continued, “he needs initiatives that allow him to face together with others what life imposes. Walking and working together we experience the great miracle of hope: everything seems possible again. In this sense, cooperation is a way of making hope concrete in the lives of people.”

Solidarity, said Pope Francis, allows people to strive for a fair wage; it helps farmers weakened by the markets to be part of a community that strengthens and supports them; it permits a lonely fisherman to join a group of colleagues…”

“The "miracle" of cooperation is a team strategy that opens a gap in the wall of an indifferent crowd that excludes the weakest, the Pope said, adding, “a society that becomes a wall, made up of the mass of many individuals who do not think and act as people, is not able to appreciate the fundamental value of relationships.”

Women and cooperative projects

Speaking in particular about women in society, he said that, “it is above all women who, in the global world, bear the brunt of material poverty, social exclusion and cultural marginalisation. The issue of women, he emphasized should once again be one of the priorities of future cooperative projects.”

The Pope concluded by saying that, “we live in a world that is taken in by the frenzy of possessing, and that struggles to walk as a community. The work that you have been doing for a hundred years is: relationships as opposed to individualism, teamwork as opposed to self-interests, the common good as opposed to the interests of a few.”

 

16 March 2019, 13:21