(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with participants of the Plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
In his address, the Holy Father noted the Plenary assembly coincides with the fifth anniversary of Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in veritate, which Pope Francis called “a foundational document for the evangelization of the social sphere.”
Caritas in veritate, the Pope said, drew attention “to the benefits, but also the dangers of globalization.” Pope Francis highlighted the issue of the exploitation of labour markets, as well as the growth of poverty and inequality. Referring to his own encyclical, Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis pointed out “three basic instruments for the social inclusion of those most in need: education, access to health care, and work for all.”
The Holy Father said “it is necessary to keep alive concern for the poor and social justice,” which must involve the sharing of the riches that are produced and “the universalization of free markets in the service of families;” as well as “the redistribution of sovereignty, both on the national and supra-national levels.”
Caritas in veritate also addressed other current social issues, including environmental concerns, and especially the link between “environmental ecology and human ecology.”
The principles of Caritas in veritate, the Pope said, are extremely relevant today: “A truth-filled love is,” he said, “is the basis on which to build the peace that today is especially desired and necessary for the good of all.”
Below, please find Vatican Radio’s translation of the complete text of the Pope’s remarks:
I greet you with affection and I thank Cardinal Peter Turkson for the words with which he has introduced this meeting. Your Plenary coincides with the fifth anniversary of the Encyclical Caritas in veritate. [It is] a foundational document for the evangelization of the social sphere, which offers precious indications for the presence of Catholics in society, in institutions, in the economy, in finance and in politics. Caritas in veritate has drawn attention to the benefits, but also to the dangers of globalization, when it is not oriented to the good of the people. If globalization has greatly increased the aggregate wealth of the whole and of several individual states, it has also exacerbated the gaps between different social groups, creating new inequalities and poverty in those countries considered to be the richest.
One of the aspects of today’s economic system is the exploitation of international disequilibrium in labor costs, which relies on billions of people living on less than two dollars a day. Such an imbalance not only does not respect the dignity of those who supply the cheap labor, but it destroys sources of employment in those regions where it is more protected. This raises the problem of creating mechanisms for the protection of labor rights and the environment, in the presence of a growing consumerist ideology, which does not show responsibility in the confrontation between the cities and the created world.
The growth of inequality and poverty threaten inclusive and participatory democracy, which always presupposes an economy and a market that does not exclude [people] and which are equitable. It deals, then, with overcoming the structural causes of inequality and poverty. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium I wanted to point out three basic instruments for the social inclusion of those most in need: education, access to health care, and work for all (cf. n. 192).
In other words, the State of social rights – and, in particular, the fundamental right to work – is not to be dismantled. This cannot be considered a variable dependent upon the financial and monetary markets. It is a fundamental good with respect to dignity (cf. ibid.), the formation of a family, and the realization of the common good and of peace. Education and employment, access to welfare for all (cf. ibid, 205), are key elements for the development and the fair distribution of goods; for the achievement of social justice; for belonging to society (see ibid, 53) and participating freely and responsibly in political life, understood as the management of the res publica. Visions that claim to increase profitability, at the cost of the restriction of the labor market that creates new excluded [people], do not conform to an economy at the service of humanity and the common good, to an inclusive and participatory democracy.
Another problem arises from the persistent imbalance between economic sectors, between salaries, commercial banks and banks of speculation, between institutions and global problems: it is necessary to keep alive the concern for the poor and social justice (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 201). It requires, on the one hand, deep reforms that provide for the redistribution of the wealth that is produced, and the universalization of free markets in the service of families; and on the other, redistribution of sovereignty, both on the national and the supranational level.
Caritas in veritate also encouraged us to look at current social questions such as environmental questions. In particular, it highlighted the link between environmental ecology and human ecology, between the first and the ethics of life.
The principle of Caritas in veritate is extremely topical. A truth-filled love is, in fact, the basis on which to build the peace that today is especially desired and necessary for the good of all. It allows one to overcome dangerous fanaticisms, conflicts for the possession of resources, migrations of biblical proportions, the enduring wounds of hunger and poverty, human trafficking, injustice, and social and economic disparities, imbalance in collective goods.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Church is always on a journey, seeking new ways to proclaim the Gospel, even in the social field. I thank you for your efforts in this area, and in entrusting you to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I ask you to pray for me, and I bless you from the heart.
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