On Monday, the Holy Father received participants in a meeting being promoted by Young Entrepreneurs of Confindustria (the General Confederation of Italian Industry).
The Pope opened his address to them by affirming that "all business enterprises are to be considered primarily as groups of people, whose rights and dignity must be respected. Human life, and the values of human life, must always be the foundation and the final aim of the economy."
Pope Benedict spoke of "profit as the primary indicator of the good functioning of a firm," pointing out how "the social Magisterium of the Church recognizes its importance, at the same time underlining the need to safeguard the dignity of the people who, in one way or another, work for a company."
"It is necessary," he continued, "for working activity to become once again an area in which people can realize their potential and make the most of their individual capacities and genius. And it depends upon you, dear business people, to create the most favorable conditions to bring this about."
Benedict XVI told his audience of his conviction that, despite the crisis being suffered by the world of work, they would do everything possible "to safeguard jobs, especially among the young. In order to build the future with hope, young people must be able to rely on a reliable source of income for themselves and their loved ones."
Over the years, he said, apart from reflecting upon "the centrality of mankind to the economy," the entrepreneurs have also considered the question of "the family in Italian industry." In this context, he remarked, "working in favor of families means contributing to a renewal of society and ensuring the foundations for real economic development."
In closing, the Pope referred to the question of globalization saying that "if on the one hand it holds out hopes for a more widespread participation in development," on the other "it also presents various risks associated with new aspects of commercial and financial relations, which tend towards an increase in the gap between the economic wealth of the few and the growing poverty of the many. It is vital, as my venerated predecessor John Paul II so incisively said, 'to ensure a globalization in solidarity, a globalization without marginalization'."