By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The best way to ensure that economic growth benefits everyone is to create jobs, especially for those who struggle most, Pope Francis said.
“Poverty is not fought with welfarism, no, in this way we ‘anesthetize’ it, but we do not fight it,” the pope said Oct. 8 during a conference sponsored by the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation. “The doorway is work: the door to human dignity is work.”
Established in 1993, the foundation promotes the teaching of St. John Paul II in his 1991 encyclical on social and economic justice.
The foundation’s conference Oct. 7-8 focused on “inclusive growth to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development and peace,” looking at ways to promote the U.N. sustainable development goals for 2030, lifting people out of poverty while protecting the environment.
Job creation, the pope told participants, is an essential part of making sure that growth truly is “inclusive” and that it does not enrich only a few.
“Development is either inclusive or it is not development,” Pope Francis said.
Catholic social teaching, including the teaching of St. John Paul in “Centesimus Annus,” insists that every human action, including in the field of finance and economics, has a moral and ethical dimension, he said, and Catholics are called to bring Gospel-based values to the marketplace.
A Christian ethical approach begins even before looking at possible economic strategies, the pope said.
“Everything stems from one’s way of looking and from where one looks,” he said. “To look down on another person is legitimate only in one situation: (when) helping him or her get up.”
The Christian approach also means not being concerned only with oneself and maximizing profits, he said.
Pope Francis called for “the conversion of one’s way of looking” at the market and at others.
What is needed, he said, is “the humble gaze of one who sees in every man and woman he or she meets a brother and sister whose dignity must be respected, before possibly being a customer with whom to do business. He or she is a brother, a sister, a person.”
“Only with this outlook can we fight against the evils of current speculation that feed the winds of war,” he said. “Never looking down on anyone is the style of every peacemaker. It is right to do so only to help him or her get up.”