French entrepreneurs at the Longchamp racecourse in Paris, France (Reuters) French entrepreneurs at the Longchamp racecourse in Paris, France (Reuters) 

Pope to French entrepreneurs: People are the value of work

In a message addressed to France's business leaders, Pope Francis urges entrepreneurs to act on behalf of the common good and praises the value of work as an important element of human dignity.

By Delphine Allaire

Pope Francis has addressed a message to French entrepreneurs meeting on 28-29 August at the MEDEF union summer forum "La Rencontre des Entrepreneurs de France, LaREF" at the Paris Longchamp Racecourse.

In the message, read out on Monday afternoon by the Archbishop Matthieu Rougé of Nanterre, the Holy Father noted that "common good" is the "first word that comes to mind" when thinking about entrepreneurs. He spoke about entrepreneurs as "key players of development and well-being," as well as "an essential engine of wealth, prosperity and public happiness."

"The media speak little of the difficulties and pain of entrepreneurs who close their businesses and fail through no fault of their own," said Pope Francis. He mentioned a line in the Biblical book of Job which notes that success "is not directly synonymous with virtue and goodness" and that misfortune "is not synonymous with fault," striking "even the just."

Economy and the Bible 

On the contrary, noted the Pope, the Church understands the suffering of the good entrepreneur. He recalled how "from the very beginning, the Church has welcomed merchants into her bosom, the precursors of modern entrepreneurs."

"In the Bible and the Gospels, there is often talk of money, of trade, and among the most beautiful stories of salvation history, we also find stories that speak of economy: of drachmas, of talents, of landowners, of administrators, of precious pearls," he said.

The Pope recalled the father of the prodigal son in Luke's Gospel, presented as a rich man, perhaps a landowner, or the Good Samaritan "who could have been a merchant."

According to Pope Francis, the way to participate in the common good today is by creating jobs, particularly for young people.

"Put your trust in young people," the Holy Father urged, adding that "every new job created is shared wealth, which does not end up in the banks producing financial interest, but is invested so that new people can work and make their lives more dignified."

Indeed, "work is legitimately important." He said that, if it's true that work ennobles the human person, it's even truer that it's the man who exalts work. "It is we, not machines, who are the true value of work."

Know your workers

"The good entrepreneur, like the good shepherd of the Gospel, unlike the mercenary, knows his workers because he knows their work," Pope Francis underlined.

He expressed concern for the entrepreneur's loss of contact with the work of their company and therefore with their workers, who then become "invisible," quoting French economist Pierre-Yves Gomez.

"You became entrepreneurs because one day you were fascinated by the smell of the workshop, by the joy of touching your products with your hands, by the satisfaction of seeing that your services are useful," the Holy Father said.

'We must do more'

"Never forget that this is how your vocation was born," said the Pope. "And in this, you are like Joseph, like Jesus who spent part of His life working as a craftsman: 'The Word became a carpenter.' He knew the smell of wood."

"Without new entrepreneurs, our Earth will not withstand the impact of capitalism," concluded Pope Francis. "So far, you've done some things, some of you have done a lot, but it's not enough. We are in a urgent period, a very urgent period: we must, you must, do more: the children will thank you, and I with them."

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29 August 2023, 12:00