Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis met on Saturday with the directors and employees, as well as their families, of the Banca di Credito Cooperativo (BCC), a Rome-based credit union, for its 60th anniversary.
In his address, the Holy Father noted that credit unions play a role in humanising the economy by helping the weakest members of the community, encouraging social justice, lending a hand to families, promoting a socially useful relationship to money, and enhancing honesty in economic life.
The pontiff noted that in many cases, priests and lay Christians are the original founders of credit unions, and that Church’s social ministry has been involved with cooperative banking. In view of this, Francis gave his audience several guidelines, that “credit unions are called to apply in their specific mission."
Credit unions must “continue to be an engine to help the weakest members in local communities and in civil society, focusing especially on unemployed young people and on new cooperative enterprises.” They must “propose and find solutions to welfare problems, starting in healthcare”. They must “be concerned about the relationship between economics and social justice, focusing on the dignity and the value of people”. They must “facilitate and encourage family life, offering cooperative and mutualistic solutions to manage common assets, which cannot become the property of the few or subject of speculation.
This means “promoting a socially responsible and supportive use of money, in a truly cooperative fashion, where people control the capital, and not the capital, people. this enhances honesty in economics.” for Francis, credit union “are not only asked to be honest, which goes without saying, but are also called upon to defend and instil honesty in the entire [banking] field.” Ultimately, credit unions “are asked to participate actively in globalisation, as long as it is the globalisation of solidarity."
Addressing the BCC staff, Francis said, "You are a credit union, the largest credit bank in Italy. A credit union can become a large company; however, this is not the most important challenge. The most important challenge is to grow and continue to be a true credit union; indeed, becoming an ever larger one. This means encouraging the active participation of your members. Do things together and do things for others!”
“Of course, sound and prudent management is always good for everyone. Banking is a delicate trade that requires great rigour. However, a credit union must have something extra; it must try to humanise economics by joining efficiency to solidarity.”
In Catholic “social doctrine, there is another important word: subsidiarity. As credit unions, you put subsidiarity into practice when you face crises and difficulties with your own means, joining forces, not at the expense of others. This is subsidiarity, namely dealing with problems through one’s own strengths, responsibly, rather than burdening the government, or the country.
“For this reason, it is important for you to continue along the path of credit union integration in Italy. Not only because, as the saying goes, ‘United we stand, divided we fall’, but because you have to think bigger, and broaden your horizon."