Addressing participants in the Vatican conference hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and UNIAPAC, Nov. 17-18, on the theme “Business Leaders as Agents of Economic and Social Inclusion,” Pope Francis told business executives “Money is to serve, not govern.”
The conference aims to promote business leaders as agents in social and economic inclusion, reflecting with them on three challenges of business: the proper use of money, honesty, and solidarity.
In Spanish, Francis urged them to be aware of what he believes are three challenges of doing business: “the good use of money, honesty, and solidarity.”
The Holy Father’s message is something we ordinary people—not businessmen—should also heed.
He said money is “one of the most difficult topics of moral perception” and can be “the dung of the devil” and noted that its function is to serve, not govern.
“Money does not have a neutral value; rather, it acquires value according to the end and circumstances for which it is used. When one affirms the neutrality of money, they fall into its power. Businesses should not exist to make money, even if money serves to mediate its functioning. Businesses exist to serve.”
Francis warned against the temptation to use money to exploit others and hurt the poor.
Business people must be honest
Recalling the second challenge for business people to be honest, Francis noted: “Corruption is the worst social plague.”
It is a “law of the jungle stripped of any social reason” and “an idol,” he said. “Any attempt at corruption, active or passive, is to begin to adore the god of money.”
Solidarity, the Pontiff said, is the third challenge of business, and an important aspect of this element is gratuity.
“The just relationship between managers and workers,” he said, “should be respected and required by all parties. However, at the same time, a business is a community of work, in which all merit respect and fraternal appreciation from their superiors, colleagues, and subordinates.” A respect, he said, which should “extend also to the local community.”
Francis urged business people to collaborate “to create sources of dignified, stable, and abundant work, both in those places from which migrants originate and those in which they arrive… It is important to continue making immigration an important factor of development.”
Pope Francis ended his message mentioning the vocation of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), the chief tax collector who climbed a tree to see Jesus pass by and was converted by his efforts.
“May this conference be like the Sycamore of Jericho – a tree upon which all can climb – so that, through the scientific discussion of the aspects of business activities, they may encounter the sight of Jesus and from here they may obtain efficacious orientations to make their business activities always promote the common good.”
[We owe Zenit.org for the report of Pope Francis’ talk, which we have used in this editorial.]