A delegation from the cooperative sector visited Pope Francis at a private audience in Vatican City on Wednesday 16 October. Pope Francis, who has already publicly expressed his concern about the growing injustice, inequality and exclusion in society, expressed his confidence in cooperatives as a crucial part of the global economy for the future, and a way of dealing with some of the world’s most pressing problems. In welcoming the group to the Vatican, Pope Francis told of the day in 1954 when his father has brought him and his brothers together to talk to them about the impact of cooperatives on local communities, and how this had lived with him ever since. He praised cooperatives’ sustainable vision for a more just, more balanced and more stable economy, and expressed the Vatican’s intent to ensure further contact between the cooperative sector with the Pontifical Council for Social Justice and Peace.
Delegates invited to visit the Vatican were Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA); Mr Charles Gould, Director General; Ramon Imperial Zuniga, President of ICA Americas; and Manuel Mariño, Regional Director ICA Americas. Representing the Co-operative Confederation of the Argentinian Republic (Cooperar) were Mr. Ariel Guarco, President and Mr Ricardo López, Secretary.
Dame Pauline Green said: ”The co-operative sector is delighted to share this (the Pope’s) vision for a more inclusive, balanced and empowering society. It is another sign that the cooperative sector is working with the grain of society. We are continuing to drive the momentum that was driven by last year’s United Nations International Year of Co-operatives…Something is moving in society, and cooperatives are proud to be a driving, but highly sustainable platform for an economy in which their voice is heard.”
Dame Pauline Green and Mr Charles Gould invited Pope Francis to send a message of support and encouragement to the ICA World Assembly to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, 1 to 5 November this year immediately before the ICMIF Biennial Conference which runs from 6 to 8 November.
Picture above right shows (left to right): Dame Pauline Green (ICA), Mr Manuel Mariño (ICA), His Holiness Pope Francis