Vatican City, 16 June 2014 (VIS) – A congress to identify current and practicable forms of investment for greater social equality, entitled “Impact Investing for the Poor”, has been organised by the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, is being held in Rome this week. The participants, including representatives of the Roman Curia, were received in audience by Pope Francis this morning.
Impact Investing is a form of investment that “can benefit local communities and the environment, as well as providing a reasonable return”. Investors who follow this practice, the Pontiff explained, “are conscious of the existence of serious unjust situations, instances of profound social inequality and unacceptable conditions of poverty affecting communities and entire peoples. These investors turn to financial institutes which will use their resources to promote the economic and social development of these groups through investment funds aimed at satisfying basic needs associated with agriculture, access to water, adequate housing and reasonable prices, as well as with primary health care and educational services”.
Investments of this type are intended to have positive social repercussions on local communities, such as job creation, access to energy, training and increased agricultural productivity. The financial return for investors tends to be more moderate than in other types of investment. Pope Francis emphasised that “the logic underlying these innovative forms of intervention is one which acknowledges the ultimate connection between profit and solidarity, the virtuous circle existing between profit and gift … Christians are called to rediscover, experience and proclaim to all this precious and primordial unity between profit and solidarity”.
“It is important that ethics once again play its due part in the world of finance and that markets serve the interests of peoples and the common good of humanity”. He exclaimed, “It is increasingly intolerable that financial markets are shaping the destiny of peoples rather than serving their needs, or that the few derive immense wealth from financial speculation while the many are deeply burdened by the consequences. Advances in technology have increased the speed of financial transactions, but in the long run this is significant only to the extent that it better serves the common good. In this regard, speculation on food prices is a scandal which seriously compromises access to food on the part of the poorest members of our human family. It is urgent that governments throughout the world commit themselves to developing an international framework capable of promoting a market of high impact investments, and thus to combating an economy which excludes and discards”.
Francis mentioned that today the Church celebrates the memorial of Saints Quiricus and Giulitta, a son and mother who, persecuted under Diocletian, left all their possessions to the poor and accepted martyrdom. He concluded, “I join you in asking the Lord to help us never to forget the transience of earthly goods and to renew our commitment to serve the common good with love and with preference for the most poor and vulnerable of our brothers and sisters”.