23 October 2021 | Address of His Holiness


Clementine Hall

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
I am pleased that we can be with one another during your International
Convention. Thank you, Madam President, for your kind and, as ever, clear
words. In these days, you are discussing significant, and indeed fundamental,
issues: solidarity, cooperation and responsibility as antidotes to injustice,
inequality and exclusion.
These are timely issues, since the uncertainty and instability present in the lives
of many individuals and communities have been aggravated by an economic
system that continues to discard people’s lives in the name of the god of money,
fostering greed and destructive attitudes towards the resources of the earth and
fueling various forms of injustice. In the face of this, we cannot remain
indifferent. At the same time, our response to injustice and exploitation must be
more than mere condemnation; first and foremost, it must be the active
promotion of the good: condemnation of what is wrong, yet promotion of what is
good. For this reason, I am most appreciative of your work, especially in the
areas of education and training, and in particular for your commitment to
financing study and research by young people on new models of economic and
social development inspired by the Church’s social doctrine. This is important
and greatly needed: in soil contaminated by the predominance of finance, we
need to sow many small seeds that can bear fruit in an economy that is
equitable and beneficial, humane and people-centred. We need possibilities able
to become realities, and realities able to offer hope. This means putting into
practice the social teaching of the Church.
I want to return to the term “predominance of finance”. Four years ago a
distinguished economist who had also worked in government came to see me.
She told me that she had tried to create a dialogue between the economy,
humanism and religion in a think-tank, and that it had gone well and continues
to go well. I tried the same thing, she said, between finance, humanism and
religion, yet we could not even begin. Interesting. That made me think. This
economist made me feel that finance was something impractical, something
“fluid”, “ephemeral” that ends up like a chain letter. I share this experience with
you and perhaps it may help you.
The three words you have chosen – solidarity, cooperation and responsibility
–represent three pillars of the Church’s social teaching, which sees the human
person, naturally open to relationships, as the summit of creation and the centre
of the social, economic and political order. Based on this vision, with concern for
human beings and sensitivity to concrete historical processes, the Church’s
teaching contributes to a vision of the world opposed to individualistic visions,
since it is based on the interplay between persons and directed to the common
good. At the same time, that teaching is opposed to the collectivistic visions that
today are reemerging in a new form, concealed behind projects of technocratic
standardization. This is not simply a matter of “politics”; the Church’s social
teaching is grounded in the word of God and seeks to promote integral human
development on the basis of our faith in the God who became man. For this
reason, it should be practised, cherished and developed. Let us once more
become passionate about that teaching, let us make it known, for it is a treasure
of the Church’s tradition! It is precisely from your study of the Church’s social
doctrine that you too have felt called to combat forms of inequality that strike
especially the most fragile, and to work in promoting a real and effective
Solidarity, cooperation and responsibility: in these days you have placed these
three words at the centre of your discussions. Three words that recall the
mystery of God himself, who, as Trinity, a communion of persons, inspires us to
find our fulfilment in generous openness to others (solidarity), through
collaboration with others (cooperation) and through commitment to others
(responsibility). He inspires us to do this in every aspect of our life in society,
through our relationships, our work and civic engagements, our relationship with
creation and our participation in political life. In every sphere of life, today more
than ever, we are bound to witness our concern for others, to think not only of
ourselves, and to commit ourselves freely to the development of a more just and
equitable society where forms of selfishness and partisan interests do not
prevail. At the same time, we are called to be vigilant in upholding respect for
the human person and his or her freedom, and in safeguarding his or her
inviolable dignity. This is the mission of implementing the Church’s social
Dear friends, in promoting these values and this way of living – as we know – we
often find ourselves going against the grain, yet let us always remember that we
are not alone. God has drawn near to us. Not merely in words, but by his very
presence: in Jesus, God became incarnate. With Jesus, who became our brother,
we recognize in every man a brother, in every woman a sister. This universal
communion inspires us, as a believing community, to cooperate readily with
everyone for the common good: without forms of rejection, exclusivity or
prejudice. As Christians, we are called to a love that transcends borders and
limits; we are called to be a sign and witness that it is possible to pass beyond
the walls of selfishness and personal and national interest. Beyond the power of
money that often decides the destiny of peoples; beyond ideological divisions
that foster hatred; beyond all historical and cultural barriers and, above all,
beyond indifference, that culture of indifference which, sadly, we experience
daily. We can be “brothers and sisters all”, and so we can and must think and
work as “brothers and sisters of all”. This may seem to be an unrealistic utopia.
But we prefer to believe that it is a dream that can come true. For it is the
dream of the triune God. With his help, it is a dream that can begin to become
reality, also in our world.
Building a more solidary, just and equitable world is a daunting enterprise. For
believers, however, it is not simply a practical matter, with no relation to
doctrine. Indeed, it is the way to embody our faith, to praise the God who loves
men and women, who loves life. Dear brothers and sisters, the good that you do
for every person on earth brings joy to the heart of God in heaven. Continue
resolutely on this path. I accompany you with my prayers and I bless you in your
work. And I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. Thank you.