Pope at Economy of Francesco: A Rich Heritage – Except for the Planet

Pope at Economy of Francesco: A Rich Heritage – Except for the Planet September 25, 2022

Young folks pictured with the Vatican in the background. The legend: "Economy of Francesco, Assisi 2022, The Global Event."
Economy of Francesco participants try to instill economic activity with Catholic social justice principles.

Pope Francis on Saturday spoke to a gathering of about 1000 young people in Assisi. Assisi is the Italian birthplace of St. Francis, the pope’s namesake. Pope Francis was in Assisi for the final day of a meeting of young peoples’ Economy of Francesco. The title of this article paraphrases what the pope said about the heritage young people are receiving. The Guardian quotes Pope Francis:

Our generation has left you with a rich heritage, but we have not known how to protect the planet and are not securing peace.

The pope’s audience consisted of young economists and activists for the planet and social justice. They came from all over the world. Pope Francis, Vatican News says, had a chance to listen to eight young attendees.

What the pope heard:

  • Serena Ionata, economics student from Italy. The economy is a matter of “people, then of goods; first of common goods, then of private goods.”
  • Henri Totin, executive director of an NGO in Benin. “Thanks to the Economy of Francesco, he and others like him are working to enhance [a] green and circular economy.” They will “continue working with communities affected by nature.”
  • Facundo Pascutto, Argentina. He works to implement “the Pope’s green economies.” Each meeting his project, “100 Assisi,” gathers people to work on a problem. “It can be environmental, labour, professional training, among others…. We discuss these issues from the perspective that Pope Francis teaches us.”
  • Lily Ralyn Satidtanasarn, 14, from Thailand. Satidtanasarn has been an environmental activist since she was 8 and has met with many government ministries. But she is “first and foremost … a member of the youth, fighting for our future.”
  • Samuel Lekado, Kenya. He runs community services in a Maasai community to raise conservation awareness. “Today I have a group of 20 kids who were rescued from illiteracy and sent to school. We have created awareness on health and environmental issues.”
  • A young lady from Afghanistan. Her 20 years of work for women’s rights was undone by the Taliban. Economy of Francesco helped her and her husband to leave a dangerous situation. Now she continues from Italy the work she started in Afghanistan.
  • Mateusz Ciasnocha, a farmer from Poland. “We are on a mission of connecting two worlds and two words: agriculture and justice.”
  • Andrea, Italy, a prisoner. In prison he has renewed his studies. His prison works to rehabilitate prisoners like him. It is “a place where the human being is given a chance to bloom.”

Call for “new courage”

Pope Frances expressed his hopes in the young people at the meeting, the Guardian article said. He told the attendees “he was pinning his hopes on their efforts to save the planet and to make the world’s economy more attentive to the poor.” He said the economy must express “a new vision of the environment and the Earth…. There are many people, businesses and institutions that are making an ecological conversion. We need to go forward on this road and do more.”

Referencing global heating, the Pope called for “new courage in abandoning fossil fuels [and developing] zero- or positive-impact sources of energy.” He told the young people, “We are grateful to God that you are here. Not only will you be there tomorrow, but you are here today.”

Economy of Francesco

Economy of Francesco (EoF) is a project of Pope Francis, sponsored by the Vatiacan Dicastery for Promoting Integral Development. Named after St. Francis of Assisi, It calls for “a different kind of economy that better respects humanity and nature.” (National Catholic Reporter)

The Catholic Church doesn’t claim expertise in economic analysis, the NCR article explains. But the Church “has developed a body of thought, called Catholic social teaching, which offers powerful ethical insights for … rethinking the world economy. Participants in EoF center their economic analyses and activities around such Catholic principles as the common good and universal destination of goods.

In March 2020 Pope Francis wrote to “young [mostly up to age 35] men and women studying economics and interested in a different kind of economy.” This economy would “correct models of growth incapable of guaranteeing respect for the environment, openness to life, concern for the family, social equality, the dignity of workers and the rights of future generations.” Pope Francis believes that young people can “hear in your hearts the ever more anguished plea of the earth and its poor.”

Economy of Francesco first met (virtually because of the pandemic) in November 2020. Its second meeting occurred last Thursday through Saturday, September 22-24. Follow-up actions to the first EoC conference differed from country to country. The Economy of Francesco website list action plans from 21 countries, ranging from the United States to China to Ukraine, Kenya, and Argentina. Action plans from the second Economy of Francesco are forthcoming.

Image credit: Economy of Francesco

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