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Pope Francis to UNIAPAC, “never lose sight of the moral and economic value of labour”

“We must never lose sight of the moral and economic value of labour, which is our means of cooperating with God in an ‘ongoing creation’, which hastens the coming of God’s kingdom by promoting justice and social charity, and by respecting the two dimensions individual and social, of the human person”. Pope Francis wrote this in a message to the participants in the 26th World Congress of the International Christian Union of Business Executives (UNIAPAC), which was held at the Catholic University of Lisbon from 22 to 24 November on the theme: “Business as a Noble Vocation”. Mgr. Bruno Duffé Marie, Secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, read out the message at the opening of the Congress. “The noble vocation of business leaders will be evident in the measure that all human activity becomes a witness of hope in the future and an incentive to greater social responsibility and concern through each person’s wise use of his or her talents and abilities”, Pope Francis wrote, exhorting business leaders and executives to “undertake a journey of conversion and witness with the Lord, allowing Him to inspire and guide the growth of our contemporary social order”. “From its origin, some eight decades ago – the Pope began -, your federation has sought to translate into economic and financial terms the principles and guidelines of Christian social doctrine in the light of changing times. Today’s context of the globalization of economic activity and exchange has profoundly affected outlooks, goals and ways of conducting business. Your decision to reflect on the vocation and mission of economic and business leaders is thus more essential and necessary than ever. In effect, with the more intensified pace of life and work… the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development, and can even cause harm to the world and to the quality of life of much of humanity”.

“In your professional lives – Pope Francis wrote -, you frequently encounter situations where these values are in tension, and consequently you must make important practical decisions regarding investment and management”. The Pontiff then cited three “guiding principles” present in the Gospel and the Church’s social teaching that may be helpful to business leaders: the first is “the centrality of individual persons, with their abilities, their aspirations and their problems and difficulties”. “When a business becomes a ‘family’, in which management is concerned that working conditions always serve the community, labourers in turn become a ‘source of enrichment’”, Pope Francis explained. “They are encouraged to put their talents and abilities at the service of the common good, knowing that their dignity and circumstances are respected and not simply exploited”. “In exercising this economic discernment – Pope Francis continued -, the goals to be set should always be guided by the rule of the common good. This foundational principle of Christian social thought illumines and, like a compass, directs the social responsibility of businesses, their research and technology, and their services of quality control, towards the building of a more humane and fraternal society that can make the goods of this world more accessible to all”. The principle of the common good, Pope Francis concluded, points the way to an equitable growth where “decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes are specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor that goes beyond a simple welfare mentality”.

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