ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS
TO THE CENTESIMUS ANNUS PRO PONTIFICE FOUNDATION
25 May 2013
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and
in the Priesthood,
Distinguished and Dear Friends,
Good morning to you
I am very glad to meet you on the occasion of the International
Conference of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation on the theme:
“Rethinking Solidarity for Employment: the Challenges of the 21st Century”. I
cordially greet each one of you and thank Dr Domingo Sugranyes, your President,
in particular for his courteous words.
The Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation was set up by
Blessed John Paul II 20 years ago and is called after the Encyclical he signed
on the centenary of
Rerum Novarum. So it is that the context of his reflection and action is
the social doctrine of the Church. The popes of the past century contributed to
this area in various ways, including in particular Benedict xvi with his
Caritas in Veritate, as well as with memorable discourses.
I would therefore like to thank you for your commitment to
deepening and spreading knowledge of the Church’s social doctrine with your
courses and your publications. I think your service to the social magisterium,
as lay people who live in society, in the world of economics and work is really
beautiful and important.
The theme of your conference is oriented to work in the
perspective of solidarity, which is a structural value of the social doctrine,
as Blessed John Paul II reminded us. In 1981, 10 years before writing the
Centesimus Annus, he wrote the Encyclical
Laborem Exercens, entirely focused on human work.
What does “rethinking solidarity mean?”. It does not of course
mean calling into question the recent magisterium which, on the contrary, is
increasingly showing how farsighted and up to date it is. Rather than
“rethinking”, it seems to me to mean two things: first of all combining the
magisterium with social and economic development since it is constant and rapid
it reveals ever new aspects. Secondly, “rethinking” means deepening knowledge,
reflecting further to enhance all the fruitfulness of a value — solidarity in
this case — which draws in depth from the Gospel, that is, from Jesus Christ,
and so as such contains an inexhaustible potential.
Today’s economic and social crisis makes this “rethinking” ever
more urgent and highlights even more clearly the truth and timeliness of
affirmations of the social magisterium such as the one we read in
Laborem Exercens: “As we view the whole human family... we cannot fail
to be struck by a disconcerting fact of immense proportions: the fact that,
while conspicuous natural resources remain unused, there are huge numbers of
people who are unemployed or under-employed and countless multitudes of people
suffering from hunger. This is a fact that without any doubt demonstrates
that... there is something wrong” (n. 18).
Unemployment — the lack or loss of work — is a phenomenon that
is spreading like an oil slick in vast areas of the west and is alarmingly
widening the boundaries of poverty. Moreover there is no worse material poverty,
I am keen to stress, than the poverty which prevents people from earning their
bread and deprives them of the dignity of work.
Well, this “something wrong” no longer regards only the south of
the world but also the entire planet. Hence the need “to rethink solidarity” no
longer as simply assistance for the poorest, but as a global rethinking of the
whole system, as a quest for ways to reform it and correct it in a way
consistent with the fundamental human rights of all human beings. It is
essential to restore to this word “solidarity”, viewed askance by the world of
economics — as if it were a bad word — the social citizenship that it deserves.
Solidarity is not an additional attitude, it is not a form of social alms-giving
but, rather, a social value; and it asks us for its citizenship.
The current crisis is not only economic and financial but is
rooted in an ethical and anthropological crisis. Concern with the idols of
power, profit, and money, rather than with the value of the human person has
become a basic norm for functioning and a crucial criterion for organization. We
have forgotten and are still forgetting that over and above business, logic and
the parameters of the market is the human being; and that something is men and
women in as much as they are human beings by virtue of their profound dignity:
to offer them the possibility of living a dignified life and of actively
participating in the common good. Benedict XVI reminded us that precisely
because it is human, all human activity, including economic activity, must be
ethically structured and governed (cf. Encyclical Letter
Caritas in Veritate, n. 36). We must return to the centrality of the
human being, to a more ethical vision of activities and of human relationships
without the fear of losing something.
Dear friends, thank you once again for this meeting and for the
work you carry out. I assure each one of you, all your loved ones, my
remembrance in prayer, as I bless you warmly. Many thanks.