(Vatican Radio) On Friday, Pope Francis met with a group of accountants and accounting experts, who are in Rome for their World Congress.
Listent to Christopher Wells' report:
In his address to the group, the Holy Father drew attention to the question of employment. “From your professional observation,” he said, “you are well aware of the dramatic reality of so many people whose employment is precarious, or who have lost their jobs; of so many families that pay the consequences; of so many young people seeking their first job and dignified work.”
Pope Francis spoke about the “great temptation” to put self-interest ahead of the common good. He said every one – but especially people who work in the economic and financial sector – must “play a positive, constructive role,” drawing strength from prayer and from the Word of God so that they can do their own jobs well, and then go out and help others in their difficulties.
“Economy and finance are dimensions of human activity and can be occasions of encounter, of dialogue, of cooperation, of recognized rights and services rendered, of dignity affirmed in work,” the Pope said. However, the human person and human dignity must always be placed first, in contrast to attitudes that focus on profits. “When money becomes the end and the reason of every activity and initiative,” he said, “the utilitarian optic and the savage logic of profit, which does not respect persons, prevails, with the resulting widespread fall of the values of solidarity and respect for the human person.” He called on the accountants to “cultivate an ethics” of finance and the economy, and to foster solidarity as “an expression of care for others.”
Catholic social doctrine, Pope Francis said, teaches us that solidarity must work in harmony with the principle of subsidiarity in the service of human beings, and for the increase of justice “without which there can be no true and enduring peace.”
Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ address to accountants:
I offer you a warm welcome on the occasion of your World Congress, and I thank the President of the International Federation for her words of introduction. You have met to focus on a shared vision of the future, comparing the different experiences in your countries of origin. It is an important moment to address the problems affecting your profession today, to renew the understanding of the fact that it is also a service to the community. And, within your Congress, you desired to insert this moment, that recalls you to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as a perennial source of inspiration for personal and social renewal.
The current socio-economic climate poses, in a pressing manner, the question of work. The question of work: this is key. From your professional observation, you are well aware of the dramatic reality of so many people whose employment is precarious, or who have lost their jobs; of so many families that pay the consequences; of so many young people seeking their first job and dignified work. There are many of them, especially immigrants who, forced to work “under the table” [It: “in nero,” = unreported employment], lack the most elementary juridical and economic safeguards
In this context there is a great temptation to defend one’s own interests without being concerned with the common good, without paying too much attention to justice and legality. And so, everyone – especially those who are in a profession that deals with the proper functioning of the economic life of a country – are called to play a positive, constructive role in the day-to-day development of their own work, knowing that behind every identity card there is a story, there are many faces. In such work – which, as we said, requires the cooperation of everyone – the Christian professional every day draws, from prayer and from the Word of God, the strength first of all to do their own work well, with competence and wisdom; and then “to go beyond,” which means going to meet the person in difficulty; to exercise that creativity that allows you to find solutions for difficult situations; to value reasons of human dignity in the face of bureaucratic rigidity.
Economy and finance are dimensions of human activity and can be occasions of encounter, of dialogue, of cooperation, of recognized rights and services rendered, of dignity affirmed in work. But for this it is necessary to always place the human person, with his dignity, at the centre, in contrast to the dynamics that tend to approve everything and place money at the summit. When money becomes the end and the reason of every activity and of every initiative, the utilitarian optic and the savage logic of profit, which does not respect persons, prevails, with the resulting widespread fall of the values of solidarity and respect for the human person. Those who in various positions in the economy and in finance are called to make choices that favour the social and economic wellbeing humanity as a whole, offering to all the opportunity to realize their own proper development.
You accountants, in your work, place yourselves alongside businesses, but also families and individuals, offering your economic and financial counsel. I encourage you always to work responsibly, favouring relationships of loyalty, of justice, and, if possible, of fraternity; confronting with courage, above all, the problems of the weakest and the poorest members of society. It is not enough to give concrete answers to economic and material questions; you must encourage and cultivate an ethics of the economy, of finance, and of labour; you must keep alive the value of solidarity as a moral attitude, an expression of care for others in all their legitimate demands.
If we are to improve and hand on to future generations the environmental, economic, cultural, and social patrimony we have inherited, we are called to take up the responsibility to work for a globalization of solidarity: this word that risks being run out of the dictionary. "Solidarity." Solidarity is a duty that springs from the same network of interconnections that are developed with globalization. And the social doctrine of the Church teaches us that the principle of solidarity is implemented in harmony with that of subsidiarity. Thanks to the effects of these two principles, processes should be at the service of human beings and of the increase of justice, without which there can be no true and enduring peace.
While I leave you with these simple points of reflection, I entrust each one of you and your work to the protection of the Virgin Mary. I bless you from the heart, and I ask you to pray for me. Thank you.