Focolare leader: an ‘economy of communion’ can help towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goals
The Italian President of the Focolare Movement, Maria Voce, spoke today at the Initiatives of Change conference centre in Caux, above Montreux. She spoke on ‘Economy of Communion: an instrument at the service of humanity on the way towards a united world’ at the conference ‘Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy: Exploring ways to help create a just and equitable global economy’.
Maria Voce, called for a return to ethical values and a culture of giving rather than having and possessing. ‘This deepening of ethics, to be really effective, must be rooted in humanist and Gospel values, or it may be reduced to utilitarianism, tied to the demands of the economy, technological innovations, performance and efficiency,’ she warned. It requires great skills of discernment to separate the positive and the negative elements in globalization, and to see the challenges. ‘Creativity and new thinking and new economic actions will be a key to our future,’ she noted. But there is a globalisation that goes in the direction of God’s loving plan for a united and fraternal human family, the Italian lawyer said. Giving is a culture and an art, she suggested.
Voce spoke about ‘Economy of Communion’ a concept developed by the founder of the Focolare movement, Chiara Lubich, who spoke in Caux in July 2003. The Economy of Communion (EOC) involves entrepreneurs, workers, managers, consumers and financial operators, with the aim of building and showing a human society where, following the example of the first Christian community in Jerusalem, ‘no one among them was in need’. Voce continued, ‘It is simple enough concept, fascinating, extremely efficient – and why not say it – revolutionary.’ Businesses that accept this philosophy share their profits three ways: one part for the poor, for those in need, a second part for training the new men and women trained in sharing and communion, and the final part for reinvestment in the development of the business. It is less conflictual or individualistic, based more on relationships.
Businesses must become communities of people linked together by real relationships, Voce said. Values of cooperation, trust, listening, love for truth, participation can all help produce creativity and innovation, and respect for the dignity of persons. There were now several ‘business parks of such businesses, linked to the Focolare movement, in Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Portugal, Belgium, France and Italy. More than 200 doctoral theses and university papers have been written on this concept, which has given it academic credibility. She related this development to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals: the technical means exist to meet them, she concluded, but ‘the world still needs a vital sap, a soul, a coherence of life between plans and practical actions, between definitions and adequate behaviour.’ The economy is called to sit at the high table where important decisions are made, and the Economy of Communion will not to miss this date with history, she concluded.
Jean-Pierre Méan, President of the CAUX-Initiatives of Change Foundation and also of Transparency International, Switzerland, welcomed the many guests from outside the conference coming for this special event. There had been links between the two movements since 1948, he said. CAUX-Initiatives of Change and the Focolare movement share similar goals and can help each other to address the vital issues facing today’s world, he suggested. Lavinia Sommaruga Bodeo, who works for Alliance Sud, a Swiss network of development organisations introduced the guest speaker.
This last of the six weeks of conferences in Caux brings together participants, business professionals, social entrepreneurs, representatives of NGOs and people from the food industry, from every continent, to develop actions directed at creating a fairer economy. The conference season closes on Tuesday 17 August.