The View from the Vatican

Pope Francis will address the Global Forum on Dec. 3. The Archbishop of Washington talked to TIME’s Elizabeth Dias about the Holy Father’s vision for the global economy

What would be a conversation starting point for Pope Francis and business leaders?

The world of business does pay a lot of attention to sustainable development, and that means respect for people, the next generation, as well as the planet itself. I wonder if that isn’t in fact what the Pope has been talking about. The Pope focuses on the human person. He tends to look at the marginalized, because not many others are looking at them. He calls attention to every human being.

How then do you put this together in some sort of sustained economic development?

We are talking about protecting the environment and respecting the human person, but that does not compromise legitimate economic progress, it just focuses it so that when we get into the world of sustainable development, it is only going to be sustainable if we are doing this development in a way that the planet isn’t spoiled and that people come out the better for it.

What topics might Pope Francis call attention to?

One of the great tragedies of our age is human trafficking. It can’t be brushed aside. The other thing the Holy Father would definitely raise is the need to address people who are immigrants, migrants, people who are fleeing parts of the world where terror is a fact of life. I don’t think you can even begin to have a meeting on economics, on scientific or cultural development, and not look at the tens of thousands, not to say hundreds of thousands, of people displaced and desperate for the basics of life.

Any others?

I hope that religious liberty, religious freedom, would make it to the table as well. You can’t really claim to be focused on economic development, sustainable development that cares for people and the planet, and then look the other way when it comes to people being persecuted, abused and even killed for religious reasons.

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