VATICAN CITY (CNS) — True wealth lies in relationships with other people, not material goods, which is why cooperatives based on Gospel values are “the right road” to take, Pope Francis said.

Alternative economic and business models inspired by the social doctrine of the church offer another way to live in a world “that is not governed by the god of money, an idol that deceives (society) and then leaves it increasingly more inhumane and unjust, and also, I would say, poorer,” the pope said.


The pope’s remarks came during an audience March 16 with members of the Italian Cooperative Confederation, which was celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Cooperatives, the pope said, harmonize “the logic of business” with solidarity — by seeking to address the needs of their own workers and the outside world while being useful, efficient and effective in its industry.

Cooperatives challenge a business model that puts profit over people by focusing not only on the bottom line, but also on the social impact of their activities, the pope said.

“This vision of cooperation, based on relationships over profit, goes against the mentality of the world,” which means is takes creativity, courage and dogged “obstinance” to persevere in wanting to protect what it means to be human in a world “that wants to commodify everything,” the pope said.

Pope Francis encouraged the cooperatives to focus and invest more in women, who are the ones most often carrying the burden of poverty, social exclusion and cultural marginalization.

Including more women is not “an ideological discourse,” as much as it is a necessity to have the unique points of view, approaches and strategies of women.

“I am convinced that Christian cooperation is the right path. Perhaps it can seem slow economically, but it is the most efficacious and secure,” he said.