By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis on Monday received a group of young Catholic business leaders and entrepreneurs from France, who are in Rome to take part in a conference entitled a “Journey for the Common Good”. The conference aims at promoting Catholic social teaching in people’s personal and professional lives.
Genuine Christian witness
In his address, the Holy Father welcomed the pilgrims and expressed his appreciation for their desire to follow the social teaching of the Church in both their personal and professional lives. He recognized that it is not always easy to reconcile the demands of the Gospel with the demands of business and commerce; but, he said, the “evangelical values” that entrepreneurs and managers hope to implement in their businesses provide an opportunity for “genuine and irreplaceable Christian witness”.
The Pope said he hoped that the conference for the “Journey for the Common Good” would help those taking part by “enlightening their discernment” in order to help them in making conscientious decisions. He highlighted the teaching of Vatican II, in the Constitution Gaudium et spes, which encourages lay people to be responsible witnesses within their own fields, “in the light of Christian wisdom”, and with attentive respect for the doctrine of the Church.
He also highlighted the importance of ecological conversion, and recommended his own encyclical Laudato sí to nourish their “prayer and reflection”. Although cultural change takes time, Pope Francis said that businessmen and entrepreneurs have “an essential role to play” in making modest, but concrete changes “to educate the world of work to a new style”.
At the same time, he reminded them that ecological conversion must be connected to spiritual conversion, “which is its indispensable condition”. To that end, Pope Francis called on those present to “be committed to simplicity and sobriety”, rather than consumption, in order to truly appreciate life. “Simplicity allows us to stop and taste the little things”, he said, “to give thanks for the possibilities that life offers without attaching ourselves to what we have or saddening ourselves with what we do not have”.
Journey for the Common Good
The Journey for the Common Good is taking place in Rome over the course of three days, with meetings and reflections focused on the “vocation” of Christian business leaders and entrepreneurs in light of the social doctrine of the Church. The Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, and the Ambassador of France to the Holy See, Elizabeth Beton-Delègue, are among those scheduled to address the participants.