Vatican City, 27 February 2016 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall Pope Francis received in audience seven thousand Italian members of Confindustria (the General Confederation of Italian Industry). It was the first encounter in the Vatican in the history of the association, and took place within the context of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Holy Father observed that with this meeting, the men and women of Italian business confirm their commitment to contributing to a more just society, to reflecting together on the ethics of business, and to strengthening their attention to values, the "spinal column" of projects that offer a concrete alternative to the consumerist model of profit at any cost.
The theme "working together" inspires collaboration, sharing and preparing the way for relations regulated by a sense of joint responsibility. "In the complex world of business, working together means investing in projects able to involve those who are often forgotten or neglected, especially families. … And, alongside them, we cannot forget the weakest and most marginalised categories, such as the elderly, who may still have the resources and energy for active collaboration, but are too often discarded as useless and unproductive. Then there are potential workers, especially the young who, imprisoned by uncertainty or long periods of unemployment, do not receive offers of work providing them with not only an honest salary but also the dignity that they are often deprived of".
Working together means "basing work not on the solitary genius of an individual, but on the collaboration of many. It means, in other words, building a network to bring to the fore the gifts of all, without however neglecting the unique qualities of each person. At the centre of every business, therefore, is the person: not abstract, ideal or theoretical, but a real person with dreams, needs, hopes and hardships. … Faced with the many barriers of injustice, solitude, distrust and suspicion that continue to be built in our times, the world of work, in which you are on the front line, is required to take courageous steps so that encountering each other and working together is not merely a slogan, but rather a plan for the present and the future".
The Holy Father reminded those present of their "noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world", for which they are called to be builders of the common good and promoters of a "new humanism of work".
"You are called to safeguard professionalism, and at the same time to pay attention to the conditions in which work is carried out", he said. "May you always be guided by justice, which refuses the shortcuts of favouritism, and the dangerous deviations of dishonesty and easy compromise. May the supreme law always be attention to the dignity of others, an absolute and indispensable value. May this aim of altruism always distinguish your work: it will lead you to refuse categorically the infringement of the dignity of the person in the name of productive demands, which mask individualistic short-sightedness, sad selfishness and thirst for profit".
The Pope concluded by urging the members of Confindustria to represent, instead, a business open to the "broader meaning of life", allowing them "truly to serve the common good, by striving to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all", so that it is "not insensitive to the gaze of those in need. This is truly possible, provided that the simple proclamation of economic freedom does not prevail over the real freedom of man and his rights, that the market is not absolute, but rather honours the needs of justice and, in the final analysis, of the dignity of the person. There is no freedom without justice and no justice without respect for the dignity of every person".