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Three Pieces of Advice from the Pope for Entrepreneurs (and for Entrepreneurship)

(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 18.10.2022).- On Monday morning, October 17, Pope Francis received in private audience, in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, a group of businessmen from Spain. 

Here is a translation of the Pontiff’s address.

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I greet you warmly, dear brothers and sisters, members of the Spanish Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs and of the Confederation of Entrepreneurs of Galicia –I see you are all young, which is very good–, and I thank you for the kind words you addressed to me. Your presence here is a sign of hope. 

We are living at a time of notorious imbalances, be they economic or social. Vatican Council II had already affirmed  that “luxury abounds next to misery,” – I am quoting–. “And while a few have vast decision-making power, many have no initiative and no responsibility, often living in conditions of life and work unworthy of a human person” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 63). Given this context, it is urgent to propose an appropriate economy to contribute to resolve the great problems we are living at the global level.

I would like to share three ideas with you, which seem timely to me for your journey as entrepreneurs.

1st Prophecy

In the first place is prophecy. Father, what did you say? Prophecy? What does prophecy have to do with business? I propose it to you. In the Bible a prophet is one who speaks in God’s name, who transmits His message, through which a change in the environment is favoured. For example, Amos, the prophet of “justice,” already lamented in the 7th century B.C. the anxiety of luxury and enrichment of the powerful in the people of Israel, which only benefitted a sector, while the great majority of the people were oppressed, hungry and needy. 

In a context as complex as the current one, characterized by war and the environmental crisis, it is for you to carry out your service, let’s say, as prophets that proclaim and build the common home respecting all forms of life, being interested in the good of all and fostering peace. Without prophecy, the economy and, in general, all human action is blind. Because it is rooted in itself, no? When it doesn’t get sick and is transformed in finance, and when the economy is transformed in finance, then everything becomes liquid and gaseous and ends up like Saint Anthony’s chain, that one doesn’t know how much there is here, how much there is there, because it’s not touched and is altogether gaseous. Chatting with me one day, an economic financial manager at the global level, told me that she had tried  –she was in a very high post– to establish a meeting between economy, humanism and religion, and that it was all very good. She tried to do the same with finance, humanism and religion, and they didn’t find a way out. This gives me much food for thought, no? 

2nd Care of the Relationship with God

The second aspect regards the care of the relationship with God. First prophecy, second care of the relationship with God. As the earth, when it is well cultivated and cared for, gives abundant fruits, so we also, when we cultivate spiritual health, when we have a  well-cared for relationship with the Lord, we begin to give many good fruits.  

The prophet Amos stresses “seek the Lord and live [. . . ] seek good and not evil and so the Lord [. . . ] will be with you” (5:6.14). The heroism that the world needs today from you, can only be sustainable if there are strong roots. Ask yourself, how are my roots? Which doesn’t mean to go back, no. Roots to be able to grow better, so that there is harmony between the roots, the trunk and the fruits. Economic conversion will be possible when we live a conversion of heart; when we are capable of thinking more of the needy; when we learn to put the common good above individual good; when we understand that the lack of love and justice in our relations are the consequence of a neglect of our relationship with the Creator, and this has repercussions also on the common home. Then, and perhaps only in that moment, will we be able to reverse the harmful actions that are preparing a sad future for the new generations. Remember that to cultivate the relationship with the Lord makes possible strong roots, which will support the projects you wish to undertake. 

3rd Work and Poverty

The third thought I share with you has to do with work and poverty. Saint Francis of Assisi has given us an important testimony of this, who carried forward not only the restoration of the chapel of Saint Damien but, above all, contributed to restore the Church of his time. He did it, specifically, with the love he had for the poor and with his austere way of living. 

With the values of work and poverty, which imply total trust in God and not in things, an economy can be created that reconciles in itself all the members of the different stages of production, without despising one another, without greater injustices being created or living in cold indifference. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that poverty is loved, which, on the contrary, must be combated, and you have the good instruments to do this, such as the possibility to create jobs, and thus contribute to dignify your neighbours. As, through work, the Lord “raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (Psalm Be creative in the planning of work, be creative and that will give you much more strength. 

I encourage you to continue transforming with creativity the face of the economy, so that it is more attentive to ethical principles (cf. Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 189) and don’t forget that your activity is at the service of the human being, not only of a few but of all, especially of the poor. Moreover, it’s important to be aware that your activity is not above nature, but that you must take care of it, as the future generations depend on this. Your enterprise must take care , in some way, not to contaminate nature more, but, on the contrary, open paths of healing. One of the great European scientists, in a meeting I had six months ago, said: “a granddaughter was born yesterday and I thought, poor little thing, if things continue as they are, in thirty years she will have to dwell in an uninhabitable world.” It’s still in our hands to change that tendency of contamination, which is destroying everything. 

I’d like to end my message, entrusting you to the protection of the Most Holy Virgin and of Saint Joseph. They were able to take care of their family and of their home with the heart of parents. May they intercede for you so that the Lord will grant you also a maternal and paternal love to take care of the human family, to take care and look after the common home. This is a virtue of which there isn’t much talk when classes of economy are given –be careful– : one of your principal functions is to take care, to take care of your own, to take care of your business, to take care of your employees, to take care of the common home , to take care of everything, no? The good economist, the good businessman takes care. May God bless you and may the Virgin take care of you. Don’t forget to pray for me, as I need it. Thank you.