Pope Francis addresses members of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation Pope Francis addresses members of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope Francis says quest for the common good is paramount

Addressing members of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontefice Foundation on the occasion of its 30th anniversary, Pope Francis highlights the need to put “community” at the heart of all socio-economic development.

By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis thanked members of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontefice Foundation for their constant commitment to upholding the centrality of the person, the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity in their work and mission, and he reiterated his belief that “no one is saved alone.”

Addressing representatives of the Foundation in the Vatican, he encouraged them to continue to “think and act in terms of community,” making space for others and working for “a future where everyone can find their place and have their space in the world.”

“A community that knows how to give a voice to the voiceless is what we all need.”

Acting in terms of community

The Centesimus Annus Foundation is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a conference entitled” Memory to build the future: Thinking and acting in terms of community.”

Recalling the establishment of the Foundation that owes its name and birth to Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus Annus which was written on the centenary of Leo XIII's historic Rerum Novarum, the Holy Father said it has placed itself on a path that has led it to study and disseminate the Social Doctrine of the Church, “trying to show that it is not just theory, but can become a virtuous way of life with which to make societies worthy of man grow.”

The centrality of the person, the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity, in these thirty years for you have been transformed into concrete actions and have infected the hearts and actions of so many people.

The Pope thanked those present for years of valuable work, in particular for having received and relaunched the contributions he has “tried to make to the development of the Social Doctrine in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.

Explaining his intent to warn against the danger of “living the economy in an unhealthy way” by pointing out that the current economy “kills" and by “denouncing an economic model that produces waste and fosters what can be called the ‘globalisation of indifference’", he appealed to those present who work in the economic field to go forward in their commitment to creating the conditions for a better future for all.

You know how beneficial it can be for everyone to have a way of imagining reality that places the person at the centre, that does not belittle the worker and that seeks to create good for all,” he said.

The Pope recalled his teaching in the encyclical Laudato si' regarding “the damage caused by the dominant technocratic paradigm” and his call for integral ecology, “where 'everything is connected', 'everything is related' and the environmental question is inseparable from the social question.”

“Everything is connected, everything is related, and the environmental question is inseparable from the social question.”

No one is saved alone

Pope Francis reiterated his belief that care for the environment and care for the poor go hand-in-hand, saying they “stand or fall together.”

“After all, no one is saved alone and the rediscovery of fraternity and social friendship is decisive in order not to lapse into an individualism that makes people lose the joy of living,” he said.

The Holy Father expressed appreciation for the title of the conference that, he noted, is from his encyclical Fratelli tutti and from a 2014 speech addressed to participants in a world meeting of Popular Movements.

“On that occasion,” he said: “Solidarity is a word that is not always liked; [...] but it is a word that expresses much more than a few sporadic acts of generosity. It is thinking and acting in terms of community, of prioritising the lives of all over the appropriation of goods by a few. It is also to fight against the structural causes of poverty, inequality, lack of work, land and housing, denial of social and labour rights. It is to confront the destructive effects of the empire of money: forced displacement, painful migration, human trafficking, drugs, war, violence [...].”

“Solidarity, understood in its deepest sense, is a way of making history.”

Focusing on the crucial role of the community, he quoted an Italian jurist, Paolo Grossi who said “The community is always a rescue for the weak and gives voice even to those who have no voice at all.”

Making space

Thus, Pope Francis continued, “for the community to truly become a place where the weak and voiceless can feel welcome and heard, what is needed from everyone is that exercise we might call 'making space'.”

“Everyone withdraws their 'self' a little and this allows the other to exist.”

Appealing for an ethics “of gift” and not that “of exchange”, the. Pope said the valuable work of the Centesimus Annus Foundation can contribute to fostering the growth of a community in which there is space for others, a future where everyone can find their place, a community that knows how to give a voice to the voiceless.

“A community in which we can walk together on the path of peace.”

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05 June 2023, 11:50