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‘Money should serve, not rule’

Pope Francis praises the ongoing dialogue between the Pontifical Foundation “Centesimus Annus” and representatives of the Italian financial sector, stressing that “the fate of the poorest is at stake.”

June 4, 2024

The Pope with members of the Centesimus Annus Foundation (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Photo)


By Joseph Tulloch
The Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation was founded in 1993 by Pope John Paul II, in collaboration with Catholic laypeople from business and academia. It aims to promote Catholic social teaching and apply it in different sectors of society.

Over the past two years, the foundation has conducted a dialogue between finance, culture and religion in the Italian financial center of Milan.

A vital dialogue
This undertaking is “not easy,” but manageable, Pope Francis said Monday during an audience at the Vatican with Foundation representatives.

The Pope said he sees the dialogue with financial representatives initiated by Centesimus Annus as having great potential.

“The work you have done in Milan is encouraging,” he said, “and it could be useful to expand it to other financial centers, promoting a model of dialogue that spreads and promotes a paradigm shift.”

“The technocratic paradigm still dominates,” he emphasized: “we need a new culture that can create space for robust ethics, culture and spirituality.”

Efficiency and ethics
Pope Francis urged the Foundation to “continue and spread this method and style.” Dialogue is “always the best way,” he said.

The Pope said he was impressed by the Foundation’s approach to integrating economic objectives with ethical objectives in conversations with top financial officials.

“You have set yourself a noble task,” he told his guests: “combining effectiveness and efficiency with holistic sustainability, integration and ethics.”

Required expertise
For the Church’s social teaching to serve as a ‘compass’ in this area, it is ‘necessary not only to admonish, but also to understand the workings of the financial world, identify weaknesses and propose concrete corrective measures’. couples,” the Pope emphasized.

Historical examples show, he continued, that religious leaders can only credibly advise the economy if they know what they are talking about.

The Pope cited the example of 16th century theologians who, in response to Spain’s booming wool trade and its financial benefits, demanded economic justice for sheep breeders and wool producers and proposed concrete reforms.

“The Spanish theologians were able to intervene,” he said, “because they knew that process, and therefore they did not just say, ‘we must pursue the common good’; they explained what was wrong and called for specific action.”

A mission
“You understand financial processes, and that is your great advantage, but also an important responsibility,” Pope Francis told his visitors.

“It is up to you to find ways to reduce injustice… Money should serve, not rule.”

This is a crucial task, the Pope emphasizes: “The fate of the poorest, of people who struggle to find the means for a dignified life, is at stake.”–Vatican News

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