By Lisa Zengarini
Over 200 young entrepreneurs, economists and activists gathered in Assisi on Saturday for the second meeting of the “Economy of Francesco”, the worldwide movement for economic justice initiated by Pope Francis in 2019. The initiative is aimed at involving young business people and Economics scholars in promoting change for a more human and sustainable economy that leaves no one behind, in the spirit of St. Francis. Participants in today’s meeting at the Domus Pacis in Santa Maria degli Angeli were joined (virtually) by other young activists gathered in over 40 Hubs across the world. They discussed projects, proposals and processes carried out during the past year to revive the economy in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Economic inequalities amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic
In a video message, Pope Francis thanked them for their “enthusiasm” in carrying out “the mission to give a new soul to the economy”. He highlighted the urgent need to change the present economic paradigm, as the world struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, which, he noted, has dramatically “amplified the deep inequalities” caused by the present profit-centred economy: “Over the past two years we have been confronted with all our failures in caring for our common home and family. We often forget the importance of human cooperation and global solidarity; we also often forget the existence of a responsible reciprocal relationship between us and nature”, he said.
“Stewards” of the goods of the Earth, “not masters”
Pope Francis once again pointed out that we are “stewards” of the goods of the Earth which has been entrusted to us by God “not masters”: “The pandemic has reminded us of this profound bond of reciprocity; it reminds us that we have been called to care for the goods that creation gives to all; it reminds us of our duty to work and distribute these goods so that no one is excluded. Finally, it also reminds us that, immersed in a common sea”, he said.
The need for a more just, sustainable and solidarity-based economy
Hence the urgent need “to seek new ways to regenerate the economy in the post-Covid-19 age, so that it may be more just, sustainable and solidarity-based, that is, more mutual” and for a “new, integral paradigm, capable of forming the new generations of economists and businesspeople” who respect our “interconnection with the Earth”. The message further highlighted that the mission of an “inclusive, sustainable and supportive” economy includes the “regeneration” of all present social systems. It said that “by instilling the values of fraternity, solidarity, and care for our Earth and common assets in all our structures we might address the greatest challenges of our time, from hunger and malnutrition to the equitable distribution of vaccines against Covid-19”.
Young people are the present and the world needs their courage
Commending the young people involved in the “The Economy of Francesco” for their commitment, Pope Francis strongly encouraged them to continue their work withcreativity and inspired by the Gospel: “Let your ideas and dreams emerge and through them bring to the world, to the Church and to other young people, the prophecy and beauty of which you are capable. You are not the future: you are the present. Another present. The world needs your courage. Now“, the message concluded.
“The Economy of Francesco”, a movement initiated in 2020 rooted in St. Francis' spirituality
“The Economy of Francesco” movement initiated in 2020, following an invitation launched by Pope Francis who, on May 1 2019, convened young scholars and business people in the city of Assisi to reflect on the economic and environment crisis of our times. The title of the event refers primarily to Saint Francis, the Poor of Assisi and the patron saint of environment who epitomizes fraternity and care for the poor and creation.
The first meeting in November 2020
Initially scheduled for March 26-28, 2020 the first meeting was postponed to November 19 to 21 last year and held online. In the lead-up to that meeting 12 groups organized on-line discussions to prepare proposals. In today’s event participants shared further proposals and projects carried out over the past year. Discussions have involved prominent personalities with whom these young people have established a fruitful dialogue. These include, among many others, Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva and US economist Jeffrey Sachs, Professor at Columbia University, USA.