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An economy of exclusion and inequality

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An economy of exclusion and inequality

“€œAn economy of exclusion and inequality”€ produces an
ever-growing number of “€œthe disenfranchised and those discarded as unproductive
and useless”€. In denouncing these injustices, Pope Francis called for “€œnew models of economic progress”€. Models, he
explained on Friday, 13 May, to participants in an international conference of
the Centesimus annus pro Pontifice
Foundation “€” which are “€œmore clearly
directed to the universal common good, inclusion and integral development, the
creation of labour and investment in human resources”€. The following is the English
text of the Holy Fathers address.

Dear Friends,

I offer a warm welcome to all of you and I thank your
President for his kind words. In these
days of reflection and dialogue, you have considered the contribution of the
business community to the fight against poverty, with particular attention to
the current refugee crisis. I am
grateful for your readiness to bring your expertise and experience to the
discussion of these critical humanitarian issues and the moral obligations that
they entail.

The refugee crisis, whose proportions are growing daily, is
one especially close to my heart. In my
recent visit to Lesbos, I witnessed heartrending scenes of human suffering,
especially on the part of families and children. It was my intention, together with my
Orthodox brothers, Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Ieronymos, to make the
world more aware of these “€œscenes of tragic and indeed desperate need”€, and to
“€œrespond in a way worthy of our common humanity”€ (Visit to Moria Refugee Camp,
16 April 2016). Apart from the immediate
and practical aspect of providing material relief to these brothers and sisters
of ours, the international community is challenged to devise long-term
political, social and economic responses to issues that transcend national and
continental boundaries, and affect the entire human family.

The fight against poverty is not merely a technical economic
problem, but above all a moral one, calling for global solidarity and the
development of more equitable approaches to the concrete needs and aspirations
of individuals and peoples worldwide. In
the light of this demanding task, this initiative of your Foundation is most
timely. Drawing inspiration from the
rich patrimony of the Church”€™s social doctrine, the present Conference is
exploring from various standpoints the practical and ethical implications of
the present world economy, while at the same time laying the foundations for a
business and economic culture that is more inclusive and respectful of human
dignity. As Saint John Paul II
frequently insisted, economic activity cannot be conducted in an institutional
or political vacuum (cf. Centesimus Annus, 48), but has an essential
ethical component; it must always stand at the service of the human person and
the universal common good.

An economic vision geared to profit and material well-being
alone is “€” as experience is daily showing us “€” incapable of contributing in a
positive way to a globalization that favours the integral development of the
world”€™s peoples, a just distribution of the earth”€™s resources, the guarantee of
dignified labour and the encouragement of private initiative and local
enterprise. An economy of exclusion and
inequality (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 53) has led to greater numbers of the
disenfranchised and those discarded as unproductive and useless. The effects are felt even in our more
developed societies, in which the growth of relative poverty and social decay
represent a serious threat to families, the shrinking middle class and in a
particular way our young people. The
rates of unemployment for the young are not only a scandal needing to be
addressed first and foremost in economic terms, but also, and no less urgently,
as a social ill, for our youth are being robbed of hope and their great
resources of energy, creativity and vision are being squandered.

It is my hope that your Conference will contribute to
generating new models of economic progress more clearly directed to the
universal common good, inclusion and integral development, the creation of
labour and investment in human resources.
The Second Vatican Council rightly pointed out that, for Christians,
economic, financial and business activity cannot be separated from the duty to
strive for the perfecting of the temporal order in accordance with the values
of God”€™s Kingdom (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 72). Yours is in fact a vocation at the service of
human dignity and the building of a world of authentic solidarity. Enlightened and inspired by the Gospel, and
in fruitful cooperation with the local Churches and their pastors, as well as
other believers and people of good will, may your work always contribute to the
growth of that civilization of love which embraces the entire human family in
justice and peace.

Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord”€™s
blessings of wisdom, joy and strength.


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