During a two-day forum on the theme “The 21st Century Challenge: Forging a New Social Compact,” inspired by Pope Francis’ call to help the poor and the marginalized, Fortune 500 CEOs were faced with questions very different from the norm.
During the meeting, business leaders were confronted with questions on how they could find practical solutions to produce a more humane economy and how to eliminate poverty and world-wide refugee crisis.
The pontiff requested some of the world’s most powerful business men and women to unite in creating a more inclusive world, one in which the poor are given the aid they need while the economy soars under humane conditions.
“I pray that you may involve in your efforts those whom you seek to help; give them a voice, listen to their stories, learn from their experiences and understand their needs,” Pope Francis said Saturday.
“See in them a brother and sister, a son and a daughter, a mother and a father. Amid the challenges of our day, see the human face of those you earnestly seek to help.”
Powerful VIP members from big-name companies such as IBM, the Ford Foundation, Lenovo, Virgin Group, Deloitte, Monsanto and S.C. Johnson & Son, met for the Fortune+Time Global Forum in Rome on December second and third.
The forum took place at a Roman hotel and the Pope welcomed them all to the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace Saturday morning, where he offered his thanks.
“I would like to offer a particular word of thanks for all that you are doing to promote the centrality and dignity of the human person within our institutions and economic models, and to draw attention to the plight of the poor and refugees, who are so often forgotten by society,” His Holiness shared.
“When we ignore the cries of so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we not only deny them their God-given rights and worth, but we also reject their wisdom and prevent them from offering their talents, traditions and cultures to the world.”
Pope Francis insisted the marginalized simply “want to make their rightful contributions to their local communities and broader society, and to benefit from the resources and development too often reserved for the few.”
The pontiff called for institutional and personal conversion, “a change of heart” to prioritize humanity, culture, religious beliefs and traditions.
He specified the humane changes will not only be seen in market economies and infrastructure improvements:
“No, what we are speaking about is the common good of humanity, of the right of each person to share in the resources of this world and to have the same opportunities to realize his or her potential, a potential that is ultimately based on the dignity of the children of God, created in his image and likeness.”
Pope Francis shared very touching words that, hopefully, the CEOs will take to heart:
“For when we finally recognize the evil in our midst, we can seek healing by applying the remedy. Your very presence here today is a sign of such hope, because it shows that you recognize the issues before us and the imperative to act decisively.”
The pontiff concluded by saying he would be praying for the group and for the Church’s ongoing commitment to aid “those who otherwise are silenced.”