You are perhaps the last generation that can save the planet from the environmental crisis, the Holy Father said to young people, in a video message sent to participants in the second meeting of the “Economy of Francis” held on Saturday, 2 October, in Assisi. The following is a translation of the Pope's words to young activists, many of whom participated virtually from throughout the world.
Dear young people,
greet you with affection, glad to meet you – albeit virtually – in this second event of yours. Over the last few months, I have heard a lot about the experiences and initiatives you have constructed together, and I would like to thank you for the enthusiasm with which you carry out this mission to give a new soul to the economy.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not only revealed to us the profound inequalities that infect our societies: it has amplified them. Since the appearance of a virus from the animal world, our communities have suffered a great increase in unemployment, poverty, inequality, hunger and exclusion from necessary health care. Let us not forget that a few have taken advantage of the pandemic to enrich themselves and close themselves off. All this suffering has a disproportionate impact on our poorest brothers and sisters.
Over the past two years, we have been confronted with all our failures in caring for our common home and family. We often forget the importance of human cooperation and global solidarity; we also often forget the existence of a responsible reciprocal relationship between us and nature. The Earth precedes us and was given to us, and this is a key element in our relationship with the goods of the Earth and therefore a fundamental premise for our economic systems. We are stewards of the goods, not masters. Despite this, the ailing economy that kills stems from the assumption that we are owners of creation, able to exploit it for our own interests and growth. The pandemic has reminded us of this profound bond of reciprocity; it reminds us that we have been called to care for the goods that creation gives to all; it reminds us of our duty to work and distribute these goods so that no one is excluded.
Finally, it also reminds us that, immersed in a common sea, we must embrace the need for a new fraternity. This is a propitious time to become aware again that we need each other, that we have a responsibility towards each other and towards the world.
The quality of the development of peoples and of the Earth depends above all on our common assets. Therefore, we must seek new ways to regenerate the economy in the post-Covid-19 age, so that it may be more just, sustainable and solidarity-based, that is, more mutual. We need more circular processes, to produce and not squander our Earth’s resources, fairer ways of selling and distributing goods, and more responsible behaviour when we consume. There is the need for a new, integral paradigm, capable of forming the new generations of economists and businesspeople, with respect for our interconnection with the Earth. You, in the “Economy of Francesco”, as in many other groups of young people, are working with the same intention. You can offer this new outlook to this example of a new economy.
Today our Mother Earth is lamenting and warning us that we are approaching dangerous thresholds. You are perhaps the last generation that can save us: I am not exaggerating. In the light of this emergency, your creativity and resilience imply a great responsibility. I hope you can use those gifts to correct the mistakes of the past and lead us towards a new economy that is more inclusive, sustainable and supportive.
This mission of the economy, however, includes the regeneration of all our social systems: by instilling the values of fraternity, solidarity, and care for our Earth and common assets in all our structures, we might address the greatest challenges of our time, from hunger and malnutrition to the equitable distribution of vaccines against Covid-19. We must work together and dream on a large scale. With our eyes focused on Jesus we will find the inspiration to design a new world and the courage to journey together towards a better future.
To you, young people, I once again entrust the task of placing fraternity at the centre of the economy. Now as never before we feel the need for young people who, through study and practice, know how to demonstrate that a different economy exists. Do not be discouraged: let yourselves be guided by the love of the Gospel, which is the springboard for all change and which urges us to enter into the wounds of history and rise again. Let yourselves be launched with creativity into the construction of new times, sensitive to the voice of the poor and committed to including them in the construction of our common future. Our time, because of the importance and urgency of the economy, needs a new generation of economists who live the Gospel in companies, schools, factories, banks and markets.
Follow the witness of those new merchants whom Jesus does not expel from the temple, because you are His friends and allies of His Kingdom.
Dear young people, let your ideas and dreams emerge and through them bring to the world, to the Church and to other young people, the prophecy and beauty of which you are capable. You are not the future: you are the present. Another present. The world needs your courage. Now. Thank you.