Help the poor and the planet, pope tells young economists, entrepreneurs

ROME (CNS) – Pope Francis acknowledged that young people have been given a world marked by inequality, injustice, war and environmental degradation and urged those seeking solutions to be concrete, to include the poor, themselves to take care of the earth and create jobs .

“Our generation left you a rich legacy, but we didn’t know how to protect the planet and we don’t secure peace,” Pope Francis testified to around 1,000 young adult economists, entrepreneurs, financial advisors, students, scholars and scientists 120 countries at the final session of the Economy of Francesco event in Assisi.

The September 22-24 meeting was originally scheduled for March 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the young people spent more than two years collaborating online with older experts, studying agriculture and employment, peace and ecology, and finance and development, looking for ways to improve the economy for more people and for the environment.

The project is named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, known for his love for the poor and for creation, and has been supported by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

At the end of the meeting, the participants gave Pope Francis a pact in which they promised to work for “an economy of peace and not of war; an economy that counters the proliferation of weapons, especially the most destructive ones; an economy that cares about creation and does not plunder it; an economy at the service of the person, family and life that respects every woman, man, child, the elderly and especially the infirm and vulnerable.”

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The Pope encouraged young people to also devote themselves to preserving and increasing their “spiritual capital”, the faith and values ​​that will give meaning to their studies, their work and, above all, their lives.

Finally, he said, “Human beings created in the image and likeness of God seek meaning before they seek material goods,” but the modern world is losing sight of “this essential kind of capital accumulated over centuries Religions, wise traditions and popular piety.”

Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, he said a new economic model must be “an economy of friendship with the earth and an economy of peace”. It is about transforming an economy of killing into an economy of life with all its aspects.”

Love for the poor and for the earth must go hand in hand, he said. But it will require sacrifice and radical change.

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“The earth is burning today,” he said. “If we speak of ecological transition but remain in the 20th century economic paradigm that has plundered the earth and its natural resources, our strategies will always fall short.”

“We humans have grown at the expense of the earth over the past two centuries. We have often plundered to increase our own welfare, and not even the welfare of everyone,” Pope Francis told the young people. “Now is the time for a new bold move away from fossil fuels to accelerate the development of energy sources with no or positive impact.”

When the pope arrived at the gathering, young adults from Italy, Benin, Argentina, Thailand, Kenya, Afghanistan and Poland shared their stories and projects – from starting farms and training farmers in regenerative agriculture to starting small businesses or rallying other young people to persuade companies to stop producing single-use plastic bottles and bags.

Andrea, a young Italian man who is in prison for murder but was given permission to attend the Assisi event, spoke about his digital marketing work through a cooperative in prisons that provides teleworkers for companies, as well as a workshop that repairs espresso machines for provides coffee bars.

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“I’m not an economist, but it seems pretty logical to me to think that in order for prisons to be a good investment for society, they need to deliver tangible outcomes, and those are basically two things: safety and recidivism,” Andrea said. “People coming out of prison need to be transformed from a ‘cost’ to a ‘resource’ to society.”

Pope Francis ended his speech with prayer, asking God to forgive the older generation “for damaging the earth, not respecting indigenous cultures, not appreciating and loving the poorest of the poor, and creating wealth without community.”

He prayed that the Holy Spirit would continue to inspire young people and that God would “bless them in their endeavors, studies, and dreams.”

“Encourage their longing for good and life, support them when they are disappointed by bad examples, do not let them become discouraged but may they continue on their way,” the Pope prayed. “You whose only begotten son became a carpenter, give them the joy of changing the world with love, ingenuity and hands.”

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