Pope puts family at the center of social justice

Pope Francis audience with Confederazione Cooperative Italiane Catholic News Agency Credit Bohumil Petrik 22815 About 7,000 members of the business group Confederazione Cooperative Italiane gathered in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall for an audience with Pope Francis Feb. 28, 2015. | Bohumil Petrik/CNA

In an audience with the Confederazione Cooperative Italiane (confederation of Italian co-operatives) Pope Francis called for the "globalization of solidarity" which places the dignity of persons and families at the center of social justice.

"To globalize solidarity," the Pope said during the Feb. 28 gathering, "means thinking about spiraling unemployment, the constant tears of the poor," and "the need for real, integral progress for the person," not just in terms of income.

First founded in 1919, the Confederazione Cooperative Italiane is a "business incubator" which helps new and start-up companies get off the ground by providing services and resources. Suppressed under Italy's Fascist Regime, it was re-established in 1945.

Speaking to the 7,000 people gathered in the Vatican's Paul VI during the audience, comprised of men and women representing various sectors of the work force, Pope Francis offered a few points of encouragement.

First, he spoke of the need to prioritize the creation of "new cooperative enterprises," while developing those that already exist, thereby creating "new possibilities for work" which are currently unavailable.

Pope Francis also addressed the need for welfare reform, especially in the area of healthcare.

"I know what you have done for years with heart and with passion, in the peripheries of the city and our society, for families, children, the elderly, the sick and disadvantaged," he said. "Charity is a gift," the Pope added, "without which one cannot enter into the house of one who suffers."

Turning to the economy, the pontiff discussed "its relationship with social justice," as well as the "dignity and value of the human person."

Pope Francis spoke of a "certain liberalism" which believes in the necessity to "produce wealth," regardless of how, in order to "promote some political redistribution on the part of the State." Such an approach runs the risk of focusing on marking, "without leaving the deadly circuit of the pride of persons and companies who have the money-god at the center," he said.

Rather, in establishing "a new quality of economy," he said, "one creates the ability for persons to grow in all of their potential."

The pontiff then turned to the need for the cooperative to offer support  for families, emphasizing the need to "help women to realize fully their own vocation and to put into practice their own talents."

Pope Francis went on to say that, notwithstanding, money is necessary for these endeavors, and for this reason he urged members of the cooperative to invest well. He then stressed the importance of organizing resources whereby workers can be paid just wages, thereby allowing families to "live with dignity and calm."

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