Receiving a group of young French business people, Pope Francis pointed out the need for a “conversion” and “concrete changes of habits and style” that will “concretely effect change and, little by little, educate the world of work to a new style ”. He appealed to business people to embark on “the path of simplicity and sobriety” on a personal level
The pontiff was speaking to a delegation of 300 young French Catholic business people who travelled to Rome, to participate in “Journey of the common good”, three days of meetings and reflections on the “vocation” of Christian business people.
Pope Francis said he was ” well aware that it is not easy in daily life to reconcile the demands of faith and the social teaching of the Church with the needs and constraints imposed by the laws of the market and of globalization”.
Conflicts of conscience
“The conflicts of conscience in the daily decisions you have to make are – I imagine – numerous: on the one hand, the need imposed on you – often for the survival of companies, of the people who work there and of their families – to conquer markets, increase productivity, reduce delays, resort to the artifices of advertising, increasing consumption…; and on the other hand, the increasingly urgent demands of social justice, to guarantee everyone the possibility of earning a decent living. I am thinking of working conditions, wages, job offers and their stability, as well as environmental protection”.
The Pope recalled that the Second Vatican Council urges the laity: “By their competence in secular training and by their activity, elevated from within by the grace of Christ, the laity vigorously contribute their effort, so that created goods may be perfected for the benefit of all men, be more equitably distributed among all men, and may they in their own way be conducive to universal progress in human and Christian freedom”.
Another criterion of useful discernment is enclosed, in the words of Francis, In the Encyclical Laudato si’, to which I refer you to nurture your prayer and your reflection, a certain evaluation is made of the situation in the world, of certain systems that regulate its economic activities, with their consequences for people and the environment. It is an evaluation which may seem at times severe, but which leads – I believe – to a cry of alarm at the deterioration of our common home, as well as at the multiplication of poverty and slavery which innumerable human beings know today. Everything is connected”.
The Pope concluded “faced with this reality, and being actors, as far as you are concerned, in the systems in question, you certainly do not have an immediately effective response to give to the challenges of today’s world. In this, you may sometimes feel powerless. And yet you have an essential role to play. Because, even in a modest way, in some concrete changes of habits and style, whether in relationships with your direct collaborators, or even better in the dissemination of new corporate cultures, it is possible for you to take action to change things tangibly and, little by little, to educate the world of work in a new style.”