.- Pope Benedict XVI has praised the Catholic cooperative movement for helping humanize the world of economics and business.
At the heart of the cooperative experience, said the Pope, is a âcommitment to harmoniously order the individual and community dimensions.â
âIt is the concrete expression of the solidarity and subsidiarity that the social doctrine of the Church has always promoted between the person and the state.â
The Popeâs remarks came in his address to a delegation from the Confederation of Italian Cooperatives and the Italian Federation of Cooperative Credit Banks, who met with him at the Vaticanâs Apostolic Palace Dec. 10.
Traditionally, cooperatives are small-scale economic groups that are owned collectively by members, often including employees. They became popular in Catholic countries following Pope Leo XIIIâs 1891 encyclical âRerum Novarumâ which rejected both unbridled capitalism and state socialism.
âWhat prompted members to join cooperative-type organizations, often with the decisive contribution of the priests, was not only an economic requirement but also the desire to live an experience of unity and solidarity,â said the Pope.
Cooperatives often strike a respectful balance between this âsolidarityâ and the ârightful autonomy of the individual,â he observed. In this way the good of the person, the community and the economy can be promoted.
âRight intention, transparency, and the search for positive results are mutually compatible and must never be detached from one another,â said the Pope, quoting from his 2009 encyclical âCaritas in Veritate,â Charity in Truth.
âIf love is wise, it can find ways of working in accordance with provident and just expediency, as is illustrated in a significant way by much of the experience of credit unions.â
Thus, cooperatives are âworthy institutionsâ that âcarry within themselves the evangelical counsels.â They also have a role in evangelization in these times of âgreat changeâ and âeconomic insecurity.â
These institutions can help promote âa culture of life and familyâ and a vision in which the economy and the market will ânever be separated from solidarity.â
Underpinning all that the cooperative members do, however, has to be ânot mere philanthropy, but an expression of the love of God.â
Even in the economy and workplace, participants need to bring love and solidarity drawn from âan intense relationship with Godâ through âlistening constantly to his wordâ and through nourishment from the Eucharist.
The Pope concluded his meeting by entrusting the efforts of the cooperative movement to the Virgin Mary. He assured attendees of his prayers and imparted his blessing on them and their loved ones.