Vatican City, 14 October 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has written a letter to Piero Fassino, mayor of Turin, Italy, to the authorities and to all participants in the Third Global Forum on Local Development, held in Turin from 13 to 16 October. The Pope wished to contribute to this forum by recalling some of the ideas he expressed recently before the Assembly of the United Nations, regarding the Sustainable Development Goals, which are “a hope for humanity, provided they are implemented in the correct way”.
In the text, the Pope stresses the importance of the decisions adopted by the international community that, however, “runs the risk of falling into the trap of a declamatory nominalism, creating a tranquillising effect on consciences”. He also remarks that the multiplicity and complexity of problems require the use of technical tools of measurement. “This, however, leads to a twofold danger: becoming limited to the bureaucratic exercise of drawing up a long list of good intentions, or creating a single a priori theoretical solution to respond to all challenges”.
“Political and economic action are a prudential activity, guided by the perennial concept of justice, and it must always be taken into consideration that before any plan or programme, there are real men and women, equal to their governors, who live, struggle and suffer, who must be the masters of their own destiny. Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity cannot be imposed”.
From this perspective, he adds, “local economic development seems to be the most suitable response to the challenges presented to us by a globalised economy, the results of which are often cruel”. Francis mentions his address to the United Nations, in which he spoke about how “the simplest measure and indicator of the fulfilment of the new Agenda for development would be effective, practical and immediate access to indispensable material and spiritual goods. … The only way of truly reaching these goals in a permanent way is by working at a local level”. He remarks that the recurrent world crises have demonstrated how economic decisions that in general seek to promote the progress of all through the generation of new consumption and the continuing increase of profits are unsustainable for the progress of the global economy itself”. These decisions are also, he adds, “immoral, as they sideline any question about what is just and what truly serves the common good”.
He concludes by praising Christian social thinking in Italy, through important figures such as Giuseppe Toniolo, Don Sturzo and others who, in the wake of Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical “Rerum novarum”, were able to offer an economic analysis that, starting from the local and territorial context, proposes options and directions for the world economy, and notes that much secular social thought, while based on different premises, makes similar proposals.