ROME – Pope Francis spoke of the need for creative entrepreneurship in the face of “scandalous poverty” Wednesday, stressing the importance of generosity with one’s possessions.
“If there is hunger on earth, it is not because food is missing!” Francis said in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 7.
“What is lacking is a free and far-sighted entrepreneurship, which ensures adequate production, and a solidarity approach, which ensures fair distribution,” he continued.
“Possession is a responsibility,” Francis stressed. “The ownership of a good makes the one who owns it an ‘administrator of Providence.’”
“The possession of goods is an opportunity to multiply them with creativity and use them with generosity, and thus grow in love and freedom,” he said.
Quoting the catechism, Francis said, “Man, using created goods, must consider the external things that he legitimately possesses, not only as his own, but also as common, in the sense that they can benefit not only him but also others.”
The pope’s remarks on entrepreneurship and ownership came during a reflection on the seventh commandment, “Thou shall not steal.” In recent months, the pontiff has dedicated his weekly general audiences to a series of lessons and reflections on the Ten Commandments recorded in the scriptural books of Exodus and Deuteronomy.
“‘Do not steal’ means: love with your goods, take advantage of your means to love as you can. Then your life becomes good and possession becomes truly a gift. Because life is not the time to possess, but to love,” Francis said.
In a departure from his prepared remarks, he said, “If I can give … I am rich, not only in what I possess, but also in generosity.”
“In fact, if I cannot give something, it’s because that thing has me — I’m a slave!” he added.
Francis reflected upon St. Paul’s letter to St. Timothy, which says, “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.”
Christ “enriched us with his poverty,” Francis said.
“While humanity struggles to get more, God redeems him by making himself poor: the Crucified Man has paid for all an inestimable ransom from God the Father, ‘rich in mercy,’” he continued.
The love of money leads to vanity, pride, and arrogance, the pope warned, adding that “the devil enters through the pockets.”
During his general audience, the pope greeted pilgrims from around the world, including a particular greeting for the participants of the first International Men’s Meeting in Rome.
The pope also mentioned that this weekend will mark the 100th anniversary of the independence of Poland and said, “May you always be accompanied by the protection of Mary Queen of Poland and the blessing of God!”