On the first day of their online meet, Pope Francis’ young social “changemakers” have set their sights on building an economy “aimed not at serving the few but at benefiting all”.
– “We are here together to build the world of tomorrow where nobody will be left behind”
“The Economy of Francesco” event kicked off November 19 in the online presence of some 2,000 young economists and businessmen and women who in the company of some of the world’s most-renowed experts and entrepreneurs are aiming until Saturday to give shape to the Pope’s dream of an economy capable of “respect for the environment, openness to life, concern for the family, social equality, the dignity of workers and the rights of future generations”.
Thursday’s proceedings opened with a video featuring some of the event participants, who made clear their goal from the outset: “We are here together to build the world of tomorrow where nobody will be left behind”.
– “There will be no development or progress without caring for the most fragile members of society”
First off to address the group was Domenico Sorrentino, the Bishop of Assisi where the event was first slated to be held in March this year until the coronavirus pandemic forced its postponement.
In his remarks, Sorrentino evoked the example of St. Francis of Assisi, whom he said “understood that money is only a tool”. As such, money serves “to build a beautiful economy, rich in meaning and gift, which cannot exclude anyone – on the contrary it must aim for the good of all and especially the least”, the bishop told participants.
The Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, spoke to the group after Sorrentino, and recalled that one of the principal goals of the event is “to build a global network of young leaders and changemakers in the economic field, a network that can ‘give a soul to the economy of the future’“.
“In response to the pandemic, you are trying to help Pope Francis, the Church and the whole world to emerge better by imagining and developing a different, inclusive and sustainable economy that can help us to behave like brothers and sisters living in a common home”, Turkson reminded participants.
“Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, with our gaze firmly fixed on Jesus and the leadership of Pope Francis, you, young people of faith and goodwill, can deploy a noble expression of social love by generating a new economy that brings about good wealth”, the cardinal continued.
Turkson thanked the young people involved in the meet “for bringing light into our dark world, for bringing love in these times of indifference and challenges, for bringing hope to many of us who are still in despair, and for bringing faith in a different economy which will sow friendship and bring harmony among God’s children”.
Further words of greeting were offered by the Mayor of Assisi, Stefania Proietti, who explained that “fraternity and humanism should be the fuel of a sustainable economy”.
For her part, the president of Istituto Serafico in Assisi for severely disabled children, Francesca Di Maolo, encouraged event participants to “build an inclusive economic system that no longer produces even one single victim, one single person cast aside”.
“There will be no development or progress without caring for the most fragile members of society. You can change the current economic system”, Di Maolo encouraged the young people.
– Children’s well-being, peace economics and food insecurity, at the heart of first-day discussions
After the words of welcome, participants at the “Economy of Francesco” event got down to business with panels on “Perfecting Joy: three proposals to let life flourish”, “Peace economics and industrial reconversion: a recovery plan for the world” and “The state of food insecurity”.
Proposals at those panels – which were held in the presence of world-renowned thinkers such as economist Jeffrey Sachs – included the creation of a ‘Child Flourish Index’ to measure children’s well-being, the dismantling of the military-industrial complex and immediate, practical solutions for the 690 million people starving in the world today whose plight has only worsened with the pandemic.
Event proceedings continue tomorrow, Friday November 20, with panels on “Generativity, Relational Goods and Civil Economy”, “An economy of abundance: how to foster bottom-up development?” and “Work & Care: New pillars of work”.
Saturday November 21 the work will continue with a roundtable on the theme “We are all developing countries”, before Pope Francis joins the group virtually at 5.30pm with a special video message.