Opening comments given at Mansion House at the Second International Conference on Inclusive Capitalism on 26 June 2015.
It is my honour and privilege to convey to you a message from His Holiness Pope Francis, with his prayers for today’s conference.
In doing so, I would like first of all to express my appreciation of the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and my gratitude to him for his excellent article in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. In it Archbishop Justin calls on the insights of the last Pope, Pope Benedict, in putting forward the principle of ‘gratuity’ in economic relationships. I rejoice in our strong and common Christian witness on these issues.
As with his message to Davos in 2013, His Holiness Pope Francis in this message offers both support and challenge to the process by which global capitalism reflects and re-examines itself.
First of all, he supports business as a 'noble vocation', one to which you are called, in the service of the human family.
The message then also offers some challenges.
First of all, there is the challenge of keeping the good of the human person at the centre of creative endeavours, particularly the good of those most in need. Our world today is scarred by indefensible inequalities and injustices. Our common home is disfigured, with rooms of plenty alongside threadbare rooms of acute poverty. Systems that work for the few and not for the many require radical rethinking and a conversion of mind and heart.
With our advanced knowledge, about poverty, about environmental factors, comes a moral obligation and a call for an honest search for the vital actions needed to promote the integral development of people across the world, and for a sustainable future. These moral obligations fall particularly on those in positions of influence and power in business and in politics, so many of whom are, remarkably, gathered in this room today.
Secondly, in this message, there is the challenge of dialogue. Pope Francis invites you as business leaders to engage with the voices of those who are not present in this room today. In asking for this engagement with local communities he refers to a statement in his recent Letter Laudato si’, on the 'Care of Our Common Home'. Permit me to quote his words, as they relate to us today.
‘It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. These days, they are mentioned in international political and economic discussions, but one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage…This is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. This lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality.’ (Laudato si’ 49)
I hope these strong words act as a spur in your discussions today, a discussion fashioned round the view of your role as being one of leadership of service, not of self-reward, one that requires attentiveness not only to all involved in your enterprises but also to the widespread cry of the poor and destitute which echoes throughout our world today.
Third, the words of Pope Francis inevitably point to personal questions well as challenges concerning the technical barriers and obstacles you will be discussing today. His message carries these questions: Do we have the depth of desire for change? Do we have it in our hearts to do the right thing? Can we see ourselves, from every point of view, as ultimately, through our organisations and the people within them, called to a privileged stewarding of creation on behalf of all?
The message of Pope Francis reads as follows:
His Holiness Pope Francis was pleased to be informed of the Second International Conference on Inclusive Capitalism and he sends cordial greetings to the civic, business and religious leaders taking part in this important meeting. As the participants reflect on the urgent need to address the scandal of global inequality and to bring economic development and benefit to all people, His Holiness prays that they may keep the good of the human person at the centre of all their discussions. In this way, as they consider the challenges and opportunities posed by current economic systems and financial practices, they will help foster a sustainable economic growth which promotes the integral human development of all. So too, in recognizing their efforts as a service to global society, especially to the poor who are most often excluded from the benefits of economic growth and investment, a fruitful dialogue will be encouraged with local communities, by listening and responding to their needs and aspirations (cf. Laudato si’ 49). With gratitude for the noble vocation which the participants exercise in the service of the human family, Pope Francis invokes upon all present the divine blessings of wisdom and strength.
Signed: Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State.
I thank you for your attention.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols