Economy of exclusion, inequality caused growth of poverty, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — An economic vision geared
solely toward profit and material well-being has led to an economy of exclusion
and inequality that has increased poverty and
the number of people discarded “as unproductive and useless,”
Pope Francis said.

The impact is clear even in the most developed countries where poverty and social decay “represent a serious
threat to families, the shrinking middle class and in a particular way our
young people,” the pope said May 13.

The pope addressed business
leaders and experts in Catholic
social teaching, who were attending an international conference on
“business initiatives in the fight against poverty” sponsored by the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation.

Established
in 1993, the foundation seeks to promote the teaching of St. John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical on
social and economic justice.

Recalling
his recent visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, the pope said the refugee
crisis was “especially close to my heart,” adding that the
international community is challenged to “devise long-term political,
social and economic responses” to the situation that “affects the
entire human family.”

“The fight against
poverty is not merely a technical economic problem, but above all a moral one,
calling for global solidarity and the development of more equitable approaches
to the concrete needs and aspirations of individuals and peoples
worldwide,” he said.

Pope Francis encouraged the
business leaders attending the conference to build “the foundations for a
business and economic culture that is more inclusive and respectful of human
dignity.”

Youth unemployment, he continued,
is a scandal that must be addressed “first and foremost” not only in
economic terms, but as an urgent social ill that robs young people of hope and
squanders “their great resources of energy, creativity and vision.”

The pope encouraged Catholic
business leaders to generate new models of economic progress geared toward the
universal common good “in accordance with the values of God’s
kingdom.”

“Yours is in fact a
vocation at the service of human dignity and the building of a world of
authentic solidarity,” Pope Francis told them.

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