Pope Francis meets with members of the Italian association "Anima per il sociale nei valori d'Impresa" Pope Francis meets with members of the Italian association "Anima per il sociale nei valori d'Impresa"  (Vatican Media)

Pope: Economy and society benefit when focused on common good

Pope Francis meets with Italian entrepreneurs and industrialists on Monday, encouraging them to keep their focus on the big picture of the common good while using their creativity to build a new global economy that respects human dignity and the environment.

By Thaddeus Jones

Pope Francis welcomed entrepreneurs who belong to the Italian non-profit association "Anima per il sociale nei valori d'impresa", founded in 2001 by an organization that represents industrialists and companies in Rome and the Lazio region. The association brings together people in the business world who share a mission of promoting a culture of corporate social responsibility, as well as economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Focus on the common good

Quoting from encyclical letter Laudato si', the Pope began by underscoring that "today, in view of the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life," the environment and our commmon home.

He recalled that the great financial crisis of 2007-2008 generated some positive reaction in this regard, but much more must be done to update obsolete criteria governing world economies, not to mention geopolitical-military ones where the current war in Ukraine shows how lessons from the tragedies of the 20th century have yet to be fully learned.

Global and local in harmony

Recognizing that the representatives present come from primarily small and mid-sized businesses, Pope Francis said they know clearly how challenging it is to succeed and create jobs while respecting ethical values with corporate responsibility.

At the same time, he called on them not to be discouraged or to think ethical criteria dampen succeeding in business.

He said if we want to build a better and more humane world, the economy needs to be freer from the power of finance and more concrete and creative in finding forms of production directed by an integral ecology.

More so, globalization must be "governed" so that the global does not take place at the expense of the local, but rather both realities relate in harmony and are linked in a virtuous and mutually beneficial way.

Grassroots networking

Naturally, it easy to wonder how small entrepreneurs can face the "giant Goliath" of the financial and technocratic powers, the Pope observed, but here too, he expressed optimism that the creation of a new economy that respects human dignity and the environment can and must start from the grassroots - and there are so many examples of this already happening around the world.

We need to share these experiences, he said, so that others are informed and a network can be created that can have impact in wider and greater ways on society. 

Care for the soul

In conclusion, Pope Francis offered them some advice, "as a bishop", saying if you want more "soul" in the world of business, be sure to take care of your own God-given soul.

This calls for time to reflect, think and contemplate, he said, since in order to animate others, we have to let allow ourselves be inspired by the good, the beautiful and the true.

They need only look at the legacies of Italian entrepreneurs who knew how to increase not only profits, but also the quality of life and work by using their freedom and creativity springing from an inspired conscience.

Listen to report on Pope Francis' meeting with Italian entrepreneurs and industrialists
14 March 2022, 12:21