The Pope with members of the Sustainable Markets Initiative The Pope with members of the Sustainable Markets Initiative  (Vatican Media)

Pope to business leaders: Philanthropy is not enough

Pope Francis meets with 25 CEOs who are members of the Sustainable Markets Initiative, reflecting with them on their priorities as business leaders.

By Joseph Tulloch

On Saturday morning, Pope Francis met in the Vatican with a group of 25 CEOs who are members of the Sustainable Markets Initiative.

Also present was the CEO of the SMI, Jennifer Jordan-Saifi. 

The Pope told his guests that their work of crucial importance, since it “impacts thousands and thousands of workers” and “affects the fortunes of governments”.

For this reason, the Pope said, he wanted to reflect briefly on three subjects with them: the environment, the poor, and young people.

His visitors, in turn, presented him with a list of formal recommendations they had recently submitted to the G7 concerning the global 2030 social and environomental targets.

The environment

The Pope urged his guests to place the environment “at the centre” of their attention.

Given the climate crisis, he stressed, “it is no longer enough to merely comply with the laws of states, which are proceeding too slowly.”

It is necessary, in fact, to “innovate by anticipating the future”, with “courageous and forward-looking choices” for others to imitate.

“The innovation of the entrepreneur nowadays,” the Pope stressed, “must first and foremost be innovation in caring for our common home.”

The Pope addresses participants
The Pope addresses participants

The poor

It is equally important, however, the Pope said, to “not forget the poorest and the discarded.”

Pope Francis warned against “a certain ‘meritocracy’”, which, he said, is “used to legitimize the exclusion of the poor, who are judged as undeserving.”

He also attacked the idea that “a little philanthropy” could be considered sufficient.

“The challenge is to include the poor in businesses,” the Pope said, “to make them resources for the benefit of all … I dream of a world in which the discarded can become protagonists of change.”

The young

Finally, the Pope urged his guests to pay attention to the struggles of young people, who are often “poor in resources, opportunities, and a future.”

He encouraged them to hire young people even when they lack the required experience and skills, saying that “every job is learned only by doing it.”

“Be generous”, the Pope urged, giving young people “a glimpse of the future so that an entire generation does not lose hope.”


Pope Francis drew his address to a close by praying that God might help his guests to exercise their responsibilities well and “make courageous choices.”

“I thank you for what you are doing”, he said: “You are pioneers - do not be discouraged, but continue to be pioneers.”

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15 June 2024, 15:01