Vatican City, 12 September 2015 (VIS) “The Church knows the value of cooperatives. Many of them originated from priests, committed lay faithful, and communities inspired by the spirit of Christian solidarity … and in the encyclical 'Laudato si'' I have underlined their value in the fields of renewable energy and agriculture”, said the Pope this morning as he received in audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall more than seven thousand people, including directors, employees and their families, from the Cooperative Credit Bank of Rome (BCC).
In his address Francis reiterated the suggestions he made in February to the Confederation of Cooperatives, adding that each one should dedicate itself to its specific mission: “Continue to be a motor for the development of the weakest part of local communities and of civil society, thinking especially of the young unemployed and aiming at the birth of new cooperative enterprises. Be agents in proposing and implementing new welfare solutions, starting in the field of healthcare. Occupy yourselves with the relationship between the economy and social justice, keeping the dignity and value of the person at the centre. The person must always be at the centre, not the god of money. Facilitate and encourage family life, and propose cooperative and mutual solutions for the management of common goods, that cannot become the property of the few or the object of speculation. Promote a fraternal and social use of money, in the style of the true cooperative, in which people are not guided by capital, but instead capital is guided by people. Favour the growth of an economy of honesty”.
“The economy of honesty – in this age in which the wind of corruption blows in all places. You are required not only to be honest – this is normal – but to spread and entrench honesty everywhere. A struggle against corruption”, remarked the Pope, suggesting as a final point “active participation in globalisation so that it may be a globalisation of solidarity”.
“You are the largest Cooperative Credit Bank in Italy”, he recalled. “The most important challenge you face is to grown while continuing to be truly cooperative, rather, becoming even more so. This means promoting the active participation of your members. Work together and work for others. … Banking is delicate enterprise that requires great rigour. But a cooperative bank must have something more: it must seek to humanise the economy, uniting efficiency with solidarity”.
In social doctrine there is an important word: “solidarity. As cooperative credit banks you have put the principle of subsidiarity into practice when you faced the difficulties of the crisis with your means, joining forces and not at the expense of others. This is subsidiarity: not placing a burden on institutions and therefore on the country when it is possible to face problems with one's own strengths, responsibly”. It is also important for cooperatives to allocate resources to charity and mutual funds and to be aware of where income is produced, “with attention to keep people, the young and families, at the centre”.
“At the origin of rural savings banks it was expected that the credit cooperative would be able to stimulate further initiatives of cooperation”, observed Francis. “This spirit remains valid. The BCC can be the nucleus around which a large network can be built, allowing the birth of businesses that create employment … there are many people without work. Businesses that create work in order to support families, and to experiment with microcredit and other ways of humanising the economy, and above all to give every man and woman the opportunity to have the dignity of work”, he concluded.