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Pope Francis Asks Top Business Leaders to Serve Poor with Wealth

( [email protected] ) Jan 22, 2014 06:54 PM EST
Pope Francis urged top business leaders at the Davos World Economic Forum on Tuesday to use their wealth to serve humanity instead of leaving most of the world's population in poverty and financial instability.
Pope Francis leaves Rome's Jesus Church on Friday after celebrating a mass with the Jesuits. ( Riccardo De Luca / Associated Press / January 3, 2014 )

Pope Francis urged top business leaders at the Davos World Economic Forum on Tuesday to use their wealth to serve humanity instead of leaving most of the world's population in poverty and financial instability.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, read the pope's speech in front of 2,500 invite-only elites, CEOs, and head of states, including Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff during the summit in Davos, Switzerland.

"I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it," Pope Francis said in the message read at the opening ceremony by Cardinal Peter Turkson.

The pope's message was delivered as a report by Oxfam, an Oxford-based organization aimed to fight poverty and injustice, found that the 85 richest people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population, roughly 3.5 billion people.

The Argentinian pope has not shied away from relating with the poor, sneaking out at Rome during the night to help the homeless. He even told the Roman Catholic Church to strip itself of "vanity, arrogance, and pride" and help the poor back in October. Pope Francis has been highly critical of capitalism, acknowledging that even though business has helped millions out of poverty with new jobs, it also has led to social exclusion.

"The growth of equality demands something more than economic growth, even though it presupposes it. It demands first of all 'a transcendent vision of the person'," Pope Francis said in the message. "It also calls for decisions, mechanisms and processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality."

Pope Francis' message intended to help business leaders understand their position in a different perspective rather than chastise them for the lack of action. There is a higher calling and responsibility entitled to the elite beyond creating a great business.

"Business is - in fact - a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life," the pope's speech said. "It is intolerable that thousands of people continue to die every day from hunger, even though substantial quantities of food are available, and often simply wasted. Likewise, we cannot but be moved by the many refugees seeking minimally dignified living conditions, who not only fail to find hospitality, but often, tragically, perish in moving from one place to another."

According to a report, the pope has made considerations to visit South Korea in August to meet with young Catholics. If he does visit, this will mark his first trip to Asia. Catholics currently make up 10% of South Korea's population.

The White House has announced that President Barack Obama will travel to Italy on March 27 to meet with Pope Francis for the first time.

"The president looks forward to discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality," said a White House statement.