By Linda Bordoni
World-class figures in the fields of science, ecology, education, and economy as well as religious leaders are meeting in the Vatican for a three-day Convention that aims to highlight and define a path upon which to build a better world.
“Solidarity, Cooperation and Responsibility” are the values that have been singled out by the Centesimus Annus Pontifical Foundation to guide us “on the way out of so many global pandemics: poverty, injustice, inequality and wars.”
Taking place on 21 and 22 October in the New Synod Hall, keynote speakers include, amongst others, Nobel Physics laureate Gérard Mourou, CERN Director Fabiola Gianotti, the European Commissioner for Reform and Cohesion Elisa Ferreira, cognitive neuroscientist and literacy advocate, Maryanne Wolf.
Top Vatican prelates, Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Paul Gallagher and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle are also giving interventions during the event.
The International Conference, held during the delicate post-pandemic time, coincides with the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, “Centesimus Annus”, that came on the heels of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In that encyclical, St. John Paul II noted that “Man fulfills himself by using his intelligence and freedom. In so doing he utilizes the things of this world as objects and instruments and makes them his own.” But at the same time, he stated “It is not wrong to want to live better; what is wrong is a style of life which is presumed to be better when it is directed towards "having" rather than "being".
Building a better world
In the communiqué announcing the conference, organizers explain that Pope Francis’ encyclicals Laudato sì, Fratelli tutti and Caritas in Veritate are precious tools to help us “make the community in which we live more just” if only we are prepared to “address health, ecological and socio-economic emergencies with the full awareness of the need to anchor our actions in the values of solidarity, cooperation and the sense of responsibility.”
“We must seize the opportunity of the post-pandemic rebuilding process to build back better with discernment, determination, and clarity of thought and action,” the communiqué reads, reminding us that Pope Francis “invites us not to return to the past but to build a new world through a process of regeneration.”
So, Convention organizers ask: “What kind of a world should we be aiming for?”
According to Pope Francis, the process of regeneration must begin from man, from responsible behaviors that are conducive to the common good and are guided by solidarity, charity and truth.
On the basis of the teachings of these encyclicals, and continuing in the wake of previous International Conferences, the event aims to address the perennial problems of injustice, inequality and exclusion in the light of three antidotes at our disposal: solidarity, cooperation and responsibility, all of which need to permeate and direct educational models, governance, business models and lifestyle.
But more importantly, the communiqué concludes, the Pope “invites us to be fully aware of our personal responsibility, of the need to respect our own and others’ dignity, and to live this responsibility in our daily actions in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation because this is how we can make community life more just.”