Business leaders have an obligation to use their gifts to help the poor and vulnerable, working to promote equality and human dignity, said Pope Francis in a recent letter.
“It is intolerable that thousands of people continue to die every day
from hunger, even though substantial quantities of food are available,
and often simply wasted,” the Pope said.
“Likewise, we cannot but be moved by the many refugees seeking minimally
dignified living conditions, who not only fail to find hospitality, but
often, tragically, perish in moving from place to place.”
“I know that these words are forceful, even dramatic,” he continued,
“but they seek both to affirm and to challenge the ability of this
assembly to make a difference.”
The Pope's words came in a letter to Prof. Klaus Schwab, founder and
executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, days before the group's
late January meeting in Switzerland.
Modern business activity, Pope Francis said, has had a “fundamental
role” in improving human welfare “by stimulating and developing the
immense resources of human intelligence.”
But while economic success has helped to reduce poverty “for a great
number of people,” he observed, it has “led to a widespread social
exclusion” for others.
The majority of people on Earth, he said, “still continue to experience
daily insecurity,” facing “intolerable” situations such as extreme
hunger and lack of shelter.
The Holy Father lamented that human dignity and the common good seem to
be “little more than an afterthought” in many political and economic
decisions. He challenged members of the World Economic Forum to place
the innovative skills of the business world “at the service of those who
are still living in dire poverty.”
While the expansion of equality “presupposes” economic growth, the Pope
said, it also “demands something more” – a transcendent view of the
human person and proper understanding of human dignity.
“I am convinced that from such an openness to the transcendent a new
political and business mentality can take shape, one capable of guiding
all economic and financial activity within the horizon of an ethical
approach which is truly humane,” he said.
The growth of equality also “calls for decisions, mechanisms and
processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of
sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes
beyond a simple welfare mentality,” he elaborated.
Pope Francis called for a “profound and broadened sense of
responsibility” on behalf of all. He encouraged business leaders to see
their work as a vocation and understand their duty towards the common
“Without ignoring, naturally, the specific scientific and professional
requirements of every context,” he concluded, “I ask you to ensure that
humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it.”