The following is the English text of the Holy Father’s off the cuff remarks to the Directors of the Global Solidarity Fund on Wednesday, 25 May.
I have an address prepared, but it is not necessary for me to repeat it. You can keep it in your pocket and look at it later.
I thank you for this meeting, because I like it when people are truly present on the borders, in the peripheries. Simply because Jesus went to the peripheries: he went there to show forth the Gospel. The peripheries, both of body and soul; for there are people who are a bit wealthy but have their souls destroyed, torn: go with them too, because many people need closeness.
Closeness is God’s style. In chapter four of the Book of Deuteronomy, he himself said: “What people has a god as close to it as I am to you?”. For this reason, there are some expressions of religion — whether of religious congregations or of Christians who separate to keep the faith — that are a revival of the most ancient Pharisaism. Because they want to have a clean soul, and perhaps with this attitude they will, but their hearts are soiled with selfishness. Instead, going to the peripheries, going to find the people who do not count, those discarded by society — for we are experiencing a culture of waste and people are thrown away — going there is just what Jesus did.
Then, with regard to immigrants: you mentioned the four steps: welcoming, accompanying, promoting and integrating. With immigrants, take this path of integration into society. It is not a work of charity to leave immigrants where they are. No. Charity involves taking them and integrating them, with education, with job placement, with all these things. I often say that I am reminded of the tragedy of Zaventem, the Belgian airport: that tragedy was carried out by young Belgians, children of immigrants, but ghettoized and not integrated. For unintegrated immigrants are halfway, halfway, and this is dangerous. It is dangerous for them because they will always be dependent. It is also a dangerous situation for everyone. To integrate, not to let immigrants become like a pebble in your shoe, which is annoying.
Yet to understand immigrants, we have to look at ourselves: most of us are children or grandchildren of immigrants. Many! I am the son of immigrants. Once, someone in the United States said to me: “But no, we are not immigrants, we are already rooted here!” — “Do not lose your memory: you are a people of immigrants, Irish and Italian immigrants. The Irish brought you whiskey and the Italians brought you the mafia”. Always look at the roots. Then, look at Europe: Europe was formed from immigrants; and today, for serious development, Europe needs immigrants. There is a demographic winter, where there are no children, where the future is more restricted every time: let those good people come, but they must be integrated! Integrate them. And for this I thank you so much for what you do with them. It is not alms, no, it is fraternity.
Then, the name of your group: also looking for a new type of economy. The economy must be converted, it must be converted now. We need to move from the liberal economy to an economy shared by the people, to a communitarian economy. And enough work is being done on this with young economists, including women. For example, in America, there is Mazzucato who has taken a step forward in thinking about the economy, and there are other very talented women. We cannot live with an economic pattern that comes from the liberals and the Enlightenment. Nor can we live with an economic pattern that comes from communism. We need a Christian economy, let’s put it this way. Look for new expressions of the economy at this time: I mentioned Mazzucato who is the daughter of immigrants in the United States, but there are others. In England there is another woman, and there are also men who are thinking of an economy more rooted in the people.
These are the things that I wanted to tell you in order to depart from the formality of this address. Move forward, get your hands dirty. Take risks. And look at the many peripheries: Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, parts of Latin America. Many peripheries, many, which wound the heart. Thank you for your work! And please pray for me. But pray for, not against! Thank you.
Now I will give you my blessing: May God bless you all, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.