Assisi, the full speech of Pope Francis to the young people of the Economy of Francesco
A speech full of affection and yet with unequivocal tones, the one Pope Francis gave in Assisi to the 1000 young people of the Economy of Francesco
The EoF convention saw Spazio Spadoni present at every working table, “to give legs to the project”, as founder Luigi Spadoni put it.
Days of intense work, and a unique opportunity to confront each other directly, after the long years of pandemic.
We have decided to propose the text of what the Holy Father said in its entirety, so that it may become a moment of inner reflection for those who read it.
Pope Francis, the Assisi Address
“Dear young people, good morning! I greet all of you who have come, who have had the opportunity to be here, but also I would like to greet all those who could not come here, who stayed at home: a remembrance to all!
We are united, all of us: them from their place, us here.
I have waited more than three years for this moment, ever since, on 1 May 2019, I wrote you the letter that called you and then brought you here to Assisi.
For so many of you – we have just heard – the encounter with the Economy of Francis awakened something that you already had within you.
You were already engaged in creating a new economy; that letter brought you together, gave you a
broader horizon, made you feel part of a world community of young people who had the same vocation as you.
And when a young person sees in another young person his own call, and then this experience is repeated with hundreds, thousands of other young people, then great things become possible
great things, even to hope to change a huge system, a complex system like
the world economy.
In fact, nowadays almost talking about the economy seems old-fashioned: today we talk about finance, and finance is a watery thing, a gaseous thing, you cannot take it.
Once upon a time, a good economist in the world told me that she had experienced a meeting between economics, humanism and religion.
And it went well, that meeting.
She wanted to do the same with finance and failed.
Be careful with this gassiness of finance: you have to take economic activity from the roots, from the human roots, as they were made.
You young people, with the help of God, know how to do it, you can do it; young people have done many things throughout history.
You are living your youth in a time that is not easy: the environmental crisis, then the pandemic and now the war in Ukraine and the other wars that have been going on for years in different countries, are marking
Pope Franci: “Our generation has bequeathed you many riches, but we have not guarded the planet and we are not guarding peace”
“When you hear that the fishermen of San Benedetto del Tronto in one year have pulled 12 tonnes of dirt and plastics and things like that, you see how we do not know how to look after the environment.
And consequently we do not preserve peace either.
You are called to become artisans and builders of the house common house, a common house that is “falling into ruin”.
Let us say it: A new economy, inspired by Francis of Assisi, today can and must be an earth-friendly economy, an economy
It is about transforming an economy that kills (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 53) into an economy of life, in all its dimensions.
To arrive at that ‘good living’, which is not the sweet life or good living, no.
Good living is that mysticism that aboriginal peoples teach us to have in relationship with the earth.
I liked your choice to model this Assisi meeting on prophecy.
I liked what you said about prophecy.
The life of Francis of Assisi, after his conversion, was been a prophecy, which continues even in our time.
In the Bible prophecy has a lot to do to do with young people.
Samuel was a boy when he was called, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were young; Daniel was a boy when he prophesied the innocence of Susanna and saved her from death
(cf. Dan 13:45-50); and the prophet Joel announces to the people that God will pour out his Spirit and “your sons and daughters shall become prophets” (3.1).
According to the Scriptures, young people are bearers of a spirit of knowledge and intelligence.
It was the young David who humbled the arrogance of the giant Goliath (cf. 1 Sam 17:49-51).
Indeed, when the civil community and businesses lack the skills of young people, the whole society withers, everyone’s life is extinguished.
There is a lack of creativity, there is a lack of optimism, a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of courage to take risks.
A society and an economy without young people are sad, pessimistic, cynical.
If you want to see this, go to these universities that are ultra-specialised in liberal economics, and look at the faces of the young men and women studying there.
But thank God you are there: not only will you be there tomorrow, you are there today; you are not only the ‘not yet’, you are also the ‘already’, you are the present”.
“An economy that is inspired by the prophetic dimension is expressed today in a new vision of the environment and the earth”, said Pope Francis
“We must go to this harmony with the environment, with the earth.
There are many people, companies and institutions that are making an ecological conversion.
We must move forward along this road, and do more.
You are doing this ‘more’ and you are asking it of everyone. and you are asking everyone to do it.
It is not enough to do the make-up, we must question the model of development model.
The situation is such that we cannot just wait for the next international summit, which may not be needed: the earth is burning today, and it is today that we must change, at all
This past year you have been working on the plant economy, an innovative theme.
You have seen that the plant paradigm contains a different approach to the earth and the environment.
The plants know how to cooperate with their surroundings, and even when they compete, they are actually they are cooperating for the good of the ecosystem.
We learn from the meekness of plants: their humility and their silence can offer us a different style that we urgently need.
Because, if we talk about ecological transition but remain within the 20th century economic paradigm which plundered natural resources and the earth, the manoeuvres we adopt will always be
insufficient or sick at the roots.
The Bible is full of trees and plants, from the tree of life to the mustard seed.
And St Francis helps us with his cosmic fraternity with all creatures living creatures.
We humans, in the last two centuries, have grown at the expense of the earth. It is she who has pay the bill!
We have often plundered it to increase our own well-being, and not even the well-being of all, but of a small group.
This is the time for a new courage in abandoning of fossil energy sources, to accelerate the development of zero or positive impact sources.
And then we must accept the universal ethical principle – which we do not like – that damage must be repaired.
This is a universal, ethical principle: damage must be repaired.
If we have grown up abusing the planet and the atmosphere, today we must also learn to make sacrifices in lifestyles that are still unsustainable.
Otherwise, it will be our children and grandchildren who will foot the bill, a bill that will be too high and too unfair.
I heard a very important scientist in the world, six months ago, who said: ‘Yesterday a granddaughter was born to me. If we continue like this, poor thing, within thirty years she will have to live in an uninhabitable world”.
It will be the children and grandchildren who will foot the bill, a bill that will be too high and too unfair.
A quick and decisive change is needed.
This I mean it: I am counting on you!
Please don’t leave us alone, set an example!
And I tell you the truth: to live on this path takes courage and sometimes it takes a little bit of heroism.
I overheard, in a meeting, a young man, 25 years old, who had just come out as an engineer of high level, couldn’t find work; he eventually found it in an industry he didn’t really know what it was;
when he studied what he had to do – without a job, in a condition to work – he turned it down, because they were making weapons.
These are the heroes of today.
Sustainability, then, is a multi-dimensional word. Besides the environmental one there are also the social, relational and spiritual dimensions.
The social one is slowly beginning to be recognised: we are realising that the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth are the same cry (cf.
cry (cf. Enc. Laudato si’, 49).
Therefore, when we work for ecological transformation we must keep in mind the effects that some environmental choices have on poverty.
Not all environmental solutions have the same effects on the poor, and therefore those that reduce misery and inequality.
While trying to save the planet, we cannot neglect the suffering man and woman.
The pollution that kills is not only that of carbon dioxide, inequality also mortally pollutes our planet.
Not we cannot allow the new environmental calamities to erase from public opinion the ancient and ever-present calamities of social injustice, even political injustice.
Let us think, for example, of political injustice; the poor battered people of the Rohingya who wander from one side to another because they cannot live in their own homeland: a political injustice.
There is also an unsustainability of our relationships: in many countries people’s relationships are becoming impoverishing.
Especially in the West, communities are becoming increasingly fragile and fragmented.
The family, in some regions of the world, is suffering a serious crisis, and with it the acceptance and custody of life.
Today’s consumerism seeks to fill the emptiness of human relationships with goods ever more sophisticated – loneliness is big business in our time! -, but in this way it generates
a famine of happiness.
And that is a bad thing.
Think of the demographic winter, for example, how it relates to all this.
The demographic winter where all countries are decreasing greatly, because you don’t have children, but it’s more important to have a loving relationship with dogs, with cats and so on.
We need to start procreating again.
But even in this line of the demographic winter there is the slavery of the woman: a woman who cannot be a mother because as soon as her belly begins to rise, she is fired; pregnant women are not always
not always allowed to work.
Finally, there is the spiritual unsustainability of our capitalism.
The human being, created in the image and likeness of God, before being a seeker of goods is a seeker of meaning.
We are all seekers of meaning.
That is why the first capital of any society is spiritual capital, because it is the one which gives us the reasons to get up every day and go to work, and generates that joie de vivre
which is also necessary for the economy.
Our world is rapidly consuming this essential form of capital accumulated over centuries by religions, wisdom traditions, and popular piety.
And so young people in particular suffer from this lack of meaning: often faced with the pain and uncertainties of life, they find themselves with a soul depleted of spiritual resources to
process sufferings, frustrations, disappointments and bereavements.
Look at the youth suicide rate, how it has risen: and they don’t publish them all, they hide the figure.
The fragility of many young people stems from the lack of this precious spiritual capital – I say: do you have spiritual capital?
Everyone answer within – an invisible capital but more real than financial or technological capital.
There is an urgent need to reconstitute this essential spiritual capital.
Technology can do much; teaches us the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ to do: but it does not tell us the ‘why’; and so our actions become sterile and do not fill life, not even economic life.
Being in the city of Francis, I cannot help but dwell on poverty.
Doing economics inspired by him means committing oneself to putting the poor at the centre.
Starting from them look the economy, from them to look at the world. Without esteem, care, love for the poor, for every poor person, for every fragile and vulnerable person, from the conceived in the womb
to the sick and disabled person, to the elderly person in difficulty, there is no ‘Economy of Francis’.
I would go further: a Francis economy cannot be limited to working for or with the poor.
Until as long as our system produces waste and we operate according to this system, we will be complicit in an economy that kills the poor.
Let us ask ourselves then: are we doing enough to change this economy, or are we content to paint a wall and change the colour, without changing the structure of the house?
It is not a question of giving strokes of paint, no: we need to change the structure.
Perhaps the answer lies not in what we can do, but in how we can open up new paths so that the poor themselves can become the protagonists of change.
In this sense there are very great, very developed experiences in India and the Philippines.
St Francis loved not only the poor, he also loved poverty.
This way of living austere, let us say.
Francis went to the lepers not so much to help them, he went because he wanted to become poor like them.
Following Jesus Christ, he stripped himself of everything to be poor with the poor.
Well, the first market economy was born in 13th century Europe in contact daily with the Franciscan friars, who were friends of those early merchants.
That economy created wealth, certainly, but it did not despise poverty.
Creating wealth without despising poverty.
The our capitalism, on the other hand, wants to help the poor but does not esteem them, does not understand the beatitude paradox: “blessed are the poor” (cf. Lk 6:20).
We must not love poverty, rather we must fight it, first of all by creating work, worthy work.
But the Gospel tells us that without esteeming the poor, no misery can be fought. And it is instead from here that we must start, even you entrepreneurs and economists: by inhabiting these evangelical paradoxes of Francis.
When I speak with people or confess, I always ask: “Do you give alms to the poor?” – “Yes, yes!” – “E when you give alms to the poor, do you look them in the eyes?” – “Eh, I don’t know …” – “And when you give
alms, do you throw the coin or touch the poor man’s hand?”
They don’t look into the eyes and they don’t touch; and this is a turning away from the spirit of poverty, turning away from the true reality of the poor, moving away from the humanity that every human relationship must have.
Someone will say to me: “Pope, we are late, when are you going to finish? late, when will you finish?”: I will finish now.
The three indications of Pope Francis to the young people of Assisi
And in the light of this reflection, I would like to leave you with three indications for moving forward.
The first: look at the world through the eyes of the poorest.
The Franciscan movement was able to invented in the Middle Ages the first economic theories and even the first solidarity banks (the ‘Monti di Pietà’), because it looked at the world through the eyes of the poorest.
You too will improve the economy if you look at things from the perspective of the victims and the discarded.
But to have the eyes of the poor and victims you have to know them, you have to be their friend.
And, believe me, if you become friends of the poor, if you share their lives, you will also share something of the Kingdom of God, for Jesus said that theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven, and for this they are blessed (cf. Lk 6:20).
And I repeat: that your daily choices do not produce waste.
The second: you are above all students, scholars and entrepreneurs, but do not forget about work, do not forget the workers.
The work of the hands.
Work is already the challenge of our time, and it will be even more the challenge of tomorrow.
Without worthy and well-paid work, young people do not become truly adult, inequalities increase.
Sometimes one can survive without work, but you do not live well.
Therefore, while creating goods and services, do not forget to create work, good work and work for all.
The third guideline is: incarnation.
At crucial moments in history, those who were able to leave a good footprint did so because they translated ideals, desires, values into concrete works.
That is, they embodied them.
In addition to writing and making congresses, these men and women gave life to schools and universities, banks, trade unions, cooperatives, institutions.
You will change the world of economics if, along with your heart and head, you also use your hands.
The three languages. One thinks: the head, the language of thought, but not only that, combined with the language of feeling, of the heart.
And not only: combined with the language of the hands.
And you have to do what you feel and think, feel what you do and think what you feel and do.
This is the union of the three languages.
Ideas are necessary, they attract us a lot especially when we are young, but they can turn into traps if they do not become “flesh’, that is, concreteness, daily commitment: the three languages.
Ideas alone get sick and we end up in orbit, all of us, if they are only ideas.
Ideas are necessary, but they must become ‘flesh’.
The Church has always rejected the Gnostic temptation – gnosis, that of the idea alone -, which thinks to change the world only with a different knowledge, without the labour of the flesh.
Works are less ‘luminous’ than great ideas, because they are concrete, particular, limited, with light and shadow together, but they fertilise the earth day after day: reality is superior to the idea (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 233).
Dear young people, reality is always superior to the idea: be attentive to this.
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for your commitment: thank you”.
Pope Francis: “Go forward, with the inspiration and intercession of St Francis. And I – if you agree – would like to conclude with a prayer”
“I read it and you with your hearts follow it:
Father, we ask your forgiveness for having severely wounded the earth, for not having respected the indigenous cultures, for not esteeming and loving the poorest, for creating wealth without communion.
Living God, who by your Spirit inspired the hearts, arms and minds of these young people and made them made them set out towards a promised land, look kindly on their generosity, their love, their
their willingness to spend their lives for a great ideal.
Bless them, Father, in their undertakings, in their studies, in their dreams; accompany them in their difficulties and sufferings, help them to transform them into virtue and into wisdom.
Support their desires for goodness and life, sustain them in their disappointments in the face of bad examples, let them not be discouraged and continue on their way.
You, whose only Son became became a carpenter, give them the joy of transforming the world with love, ingenuity and hands.
And many thanks”.