Don't be afraid to show concern, fight poverty, pope tells global leaders

IMAGE: CNS photo/Adam Warzawa, EPA

By Carol Glatz

CITY (CNS) — Don’t be afraid of acting fairly and compassionately toward the
poor, Pope Francis said in a written message to global business leaders
attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

do not let the sweeping innovations in robotics, science and technology
“lead to the destruction of the human person — to be replaced by a
soulless machine — or to the transformation of our planet into an empty garden
for the enjoyment of a chosen few,” he said.

pope’s message was read at the meeting Jan. 20 by Cardinal Peter Turkson,
president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

annual meeting, held Jan. 20-23, brought together more than 2,500 people
representing business, government, academia, media and the arts to discuss
current challenges such as global economics and security, climate change,
gender parity and the so-called “fourth industrial revolution,” which
refers to new technologies blending the physical, digital and biological
worlds, resulting in greater interconnectivity of tools and objects that can
collect and exchange real-time data.

his written address, the pope said world leaders must “guide and
govern” these new processes and “build inclusive societies based on respect
for human dignity, tolerance, compassion and mercy.”

he wrote, fewer opportunities “for useful and dignified employment,
combined with a reduction in social security, are causing a disturbing rise in
inequality and poverty in different countries.”

there is a need to create new models of doing business which, while promoting
the development of advanced technologies, are also capable of using them to
create dignified work for all, to uphold and consolidate social rights, and to
protect the environment. Man must guide technological development without
letting himself be dominated by it,” the pope said.

urged leaders, “Do not forget the poor,” and told them they have a duty to help
those who are less fortunate to live a dignified life and develop their full

must never allow the culture of prosperity to deaden us, to make us incapable
of feeling compassion” for those who are poor and suffering, and to
believe problems are someone else’s responsibility, he said.

people realize that “our own actions are a cause of injustice and
inequality” and that “we are compelled to heed their cry for
help,” the pope said, then “we become more fully human, since
responsibility for our brothers and sisters is an essential part of our common

not be afraid to open your minds and hearts to the poor. In this way, you will
give free rein to your economic and technical talents, and discover the
happiness of a full life, which consumerism of itself cannot provide.”

is “a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world,”
especially “if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service
to the common good,” he said.

urge you, then, to take up anew your conversation on how to build the future of
the planet, ‘our common home,’ and I ask you to make a united effort to pursue
a sustainable and integral development.”

the run-up to the Davos meeting, Oxfam Great Britain released its
“pre-Davos report” on global economic disparity saying 1 percent of
the world’s people own more than the remaining 99 percent of the earth’s

62 individuals “own as much as the poorest half of the world’s
population,” which numbers 3.6 billion people, according to the report
published Jan. 18.

the number of people living in extreme poverty halved between 1990 and 2010,
the average annual income of the poorest 10 percent has risen by less than $3 a
year in the past quarter of a century. That equates to an increase in
individuals’ daily income of less than a single cent a year,” the report

inequality within countries not grown between 1990 and 2010, an extra 200
million people would have escaped poverty,” it added.

include diverting the billions of dollars lost to tax havens to national
programs that invest in healthcare, schools and other public services, it said,
as well as government mandates for “an acceptable standard of living for
those at the bottom as well as for those at the top — including moving minimum
wage rates toward a living wage and tackling the pay gap between men and

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