In his speech addressed Saturday, September 24 to the young participants of the event of “The Economy of Francis” in the Umbrian city of Assisi in Italy, Pope Francis highlighted “the urgency of reconstituting the spiritual capital”, which is “essential”, and which “generates a joie de vivre necessary for the economy”.
Myriam Sandouno – Vatican City
The event desired by Pope Francis took place in Assisi, where nearly 1,000 young economists, entrepreneurs and agents of change from 120 countries gathered. For the Holy Father, these young people who are living through a period of environmental crisis, pandemic, war in Ukraine and other wars that have been going on for years in different countries, are called to become: “artisans and builders of the common house», a house that «falls into ruin“, he laments.
“Our generation has bequeathed you many riches, but we have failed to preserve the planet and we are not preserving peace», he asserts, pointing out that a new economy, inspired by Francis of Assisi, «can and must be today an economy respectful of the earth and an economy of peace“. It is about transforming an economy that kills (see Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 53) into an economy of life, in all its dimensions.
Economy and prophetic dimension
Pope Francis expressed his satisfaction with the choice to model this meeting in Assisi on prophecy. The life of Francis of Assisi, after his conversion, he says, was a prophecy, which also continues in our time. In the Bible, prophecy has a lot to do with young people, says the Holy Father, taking as examples: Samuel who was a boy when he was called, Jeremiah and Ezekiel who were young; Daniel who prophesied Suzanne’s innocence and saved her from death; and the prophet Joel who announced to the people that God would pour out his Spirit and that “sons and daughters will become prophets“, nations.
Referring to the Holy Scriptures, the Pope believes that young people are bearers of a spirit of knowledge and intelligence. “It was young David who humiliated the arrogance of the giant Goliath“recalls François. In effect, “when the civil community and businesses do not have the skills of young people, the whole society withers, everyone’s life is extinguished“, he says. The Pope notes a lack of creativity, optimism, and enthusiasm, while evoking that a society and an economy without young people are full of sadness and pessimism.
“An economy inspired by the prophetic dimension is expressed today in a new vision of the environment and the earth“, says the Holy Father, inviting these young people to follow the path of those who have already opted for “an ecological conversion“. François believes that the development model must be questioned. “The situation is such that we cannot just wait for the next international summit“, says the Sovereign Pontiff, who does not hide his concern about what he has been able to observe: “The earth is burning today, and it is today that we must change, at all levels“.
The sweetness of nature
During this meeting on the Economy of Francis, the Pope also focused his intervention on the plant paradigm which contains a different approach to the earth and the environment. According to him, plants know how to cooperate with their environment, and even when they are in competition, they do so for the good of the ecosystem. “Let’s learn from the sweetness of plants“, he urges, their humility and silence can offer a different style that we urgently need. Because, “if we talk about ecological transition but we remain in the economic paradigm of the 20th century, which plundered natural resources and the earth, the maneuvers we adopt will always be insufficient», continues the Holy Father. Now is the time for new courage, he argues, to move away from fossil fuel sources, to accelerate the development of zero- or positive-impact sources.
Pope Francis also urges acceptance of the universal ethical principle that damage must be repaired. “If we grew up abusing the planet and the atmosphere, today we must also learn to make sacrifices in lifestyles that are still not sustainable. Otherwise, it will be our children and grandchildren who will pay the bill, a bill that will be too high and too unfair“, underlines the Pope, for whom a rapid and decisive change is necessary. François took advantage of the opportunity to invite this youth to “lead by example“.
The social aspect
For the Pope, it is also important to focus on the social aspect. He draws a parallel between the cry of the poor and that of the earth which is the “same“. Therefore, he asserts,when we work for ecological transformation, we must keep in mind the effects that certain environmental choices have on poverty“. It invites us to favor those that reduce poverty and inequalities.
Saving the planet for the Sovereign Pontiff is certainly a good action, but it is also important not to neglect the man and the woman who are suffering. The pollution that kills, for him, is not only carbon dioxide. Inequality pollutesso mortally our planet”. Francis advises not to allow new environmental calamities to erase from public view the old calamities that are still present.
“The first capital of any society is the spiritual capital», affirms the Pope, because it is he who «gives the reasons to get up every day and go to work, and which generates the joy of living which is also necessary for the economy“. Today’s world, according to Francis, is rapidly consuming this essential form of capital accumulated over centuries by religions, traditions of wisdom and popular piety. Young people therefore particularly suffer from this lack of meaning, he says, often faced with the pain and uncertainties of life, they find themselves with a soul depleted of spiritual resources to process suffering, frustration, disappointment and bereavement. . “The fragility of many young people comes from the lack of this precious spiritual capital: an invisible capital but more real than financial or technological capital.says the Pope.
“There is an urgent need to rebuild this essential spiritual capital“. According to François, technology can do a lot: it teaches the “what” and the “How? ‘Or’ Whatto do, but she doesn’t say the “why»; and so our actions become sterile and do not fulfill life, not even economic life, the Holy Father believes.
Poverty at the center
Being in Assisi in the city of Saint Francis, the Pope cannot help but think of poverty. Saving money by taking inspiration from him is “commit to putting the poor at the centre”. There’s no “of Economy of François»affirms the Sovereign Pontiff, “without esteem, without care, without love for the poor, for every fragile and vulnerable person. From being conceived in the womb to the sick and disabled person, to the elderly person in difficulty”.
“The Franciscan economy cannot be limited to working for or with the poor. As long as our system produces waste and we operate according to this system, we will be complicit in an economy that kills”, he continues. Saint Francis not only loved the poor, he also loved poverty. Also reminds him that “Francis went to lepers not so much to help them, but because he wanted to be poor like them. Following Jesus Christ, he stripped himself of everything to be poor with the poor”.
The Holy Father urged looking at the world through the eyes of the poorest; just like the Franciscan movement which was able to invent the first economic theories and even the first solidarity banks (the “Monti di Pietà”) in the Middle Ages, because it looked at the world through the eyes of the poorest.
Finally, Pope Francis called on young people not to forget work. He invited them not to forget to “create work, good work, work for allwhile creating goods and services. According to him, the economic change will take place if in addition to theheart and head”these young people also use their “hands”. Ideas are necessary, he says, theyattract us a lot, especially when we are young, but they can turn into traps if they do not become “pulpit”, concrete“, concluded the Holy Father.