Pope Francis to business leaders: Prioritize human dignity
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday (February 7th) urged business leaders to prioritize human dignity, and suggested three ways to do this: Firstly, by moving beyond emergencies to the real priorities, secondly, by being witnesses of charity and thirdly, by acting as custodians and not masters of our planet.
His remarks came in a video message that was broadcast to a gathering of 500 international political and business representatives who were in the Italian city of Milan to discuss the theme: Feeding our planet, Energy for Life. This is the theme chosen for the upcoming International Exhibition Expo 2015 that opens in the northern Italian city in May.
Listen to this report by Susy Hodges:
Referring to his speech at the World Food and Agricultural Organization last November, Pope Francis said the first concern for all of us when considering the issue of agriculture and food production is the human person and all those who are suffering hunger. Once again he deplored the paradox of our modern society where there is enough food for everybody on our planet but not all its inhabitants have access to this food and at the same time the excessive consumption and waste of food and the use of it for other means is there before our eyes. The Pope noted that there are few other issues like hunger that are so likely to be manipulated by governments and the authorities for their own political ends. In order to overcome the temptation of sophisms, he said, “the nominalization of thought which glides over but never touches the reality, I am suggesting three concrete approaches.”
Moving beyond emergencies to the priorities
Pope Francis said instead of going for provisional emergency proposals we must act decisively to “resolve the structural causes of poverty,” remembering that “the root of all evils is inequality.” If we really want to solve these problems and not lose ourselves in sophisms we need to tackle the root causes. And to do this, the Pope stressed, there are urgent choices to make: a rejection of the total autonomy of the markets and of financial speculation.
Be witnesses of charity
Turning to politics which are so often denigrated, Pope Francis asked: what are the starting points for a healthy economic policy and the principle on which political decisions should be based. The answer, he continued, is “the dignity of the human person and the common good.” He urged his audience to be courageous in supporting and upholding this principle in the world of politics to help make the earth’s treasures more accessible for everybody.
Custodians and not masters of the earth
Pope Francis said “our planet is a mother for all of us,” it asks for respect and not violence, or worse still, the arrogance of masters. We must hand it on to our children, cared for and improved, because it’s a loan they make to us. And it’s not just Christians who should adopt this approach for safeguarding our earth, it’s the responsibility of everyone, he said. But in order to do that, pointed out the Pope, we need to take care of ourselves and not be afraid of goodness, or rather tenderness. We need “to safeguard the earth not only with goodness but also with tenderness.”