2016-11-17 10:01:00

AB Tomasi, Mining Exec say UNIAPAC conf encourages dialogue

(Vatican Radio)  Business executives and Church leaders are meeting in the Vatican for a conference on social and economic inclusion in business environs.

The conference carries the title: ‘Business Leaders as Agents of Economic and Social Inclusion’ and is hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and UNIAPAC.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Felix Pole, Chairman of mining conglomerate CMI, spoke to Devin Watkins to express their desire that the conference promote social inclusion among business leaders.

Pope Francis on Thursday addressed the conference.

Listen to the full interview:

Archbishop Tomasi: 'Conference emphasizes dialogue and dignity of work'

Archbishop Tomasi said the conference is a follow-up to a previous one in 2014 on the topic of the Common Good, which saw the participation of Pope Francis. 

He said the conference focuses on two aspects. First, it "puts a lot of emphasis on the dignity of work and on the dialogue between employers, workers, bureaucrats."

"The second track, so to say, is the teaching of Pope Francis, who insists very often on the need to build and develop an inclusive economy in which nobody is left out or considered a useless addition in the social network of production and consumption."

Archbishop Tomasi went on to say the UNIAPAC conference hopes to build a better balance in society.

"In order to achieve a better balance in society and, therefore, greater respect for the dignity of every person, we need to dialogue and to carry on a constant exchange of views in a cooperative context, in a cooperative way, between production managers, production owners, and people who live employed in this context. The journey is long because sometimes the common good is not appreciated by political leaders who put the emphasis on 'profit no matter what'."

Felix Pole: 'Action shops over talking shops'

Mr. Felix Pole is a business executive participating in the conference. He is the Chairman of CMI, a nickel mining conglomerate which, among other things, operates a nickel mine in Zambia.

Mr. Pole said his presence at the Vatican conference is two-fold.

"Our concern is really to demonstrate or to be part of a dialogue which shows that mining can have such a big social impact, both positive and negative... What we are interested in being able to demonstrate that mining can play such an important part in the development of any country, but that it has to be thought through."

"To a certain extent we're sending a message and to a certain extent we want to listen to see what other people's views are about how they see social inclusion and the role of the business leader."

Mr. Pole also gave an example of how the Church in Zambia has successful mediated dialogue between mining companies, government, and local people.

"Through the Pontifical Council [for Justice and Peace] and others, we arranged a conference in Zambia... That led to the idea of the Church itself providing space where civil society, government, and the mining companies can speak to each other without tearing each other apart."

As an executive, Mr. Pole said he is "really concerned more about the practical effects on the ground and seeing how the churches and civil society and the government can work together to solve some of the problems which occur."

He concluded with the quip: "What we're interested is not so much 'talking shops' but 'action shops'.

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