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From Independent Catholic News

Pope Francis addressed 7000 members of the Union of Italian Christian Business Executives in the Paul VI Hall Saturday, Oct. 31, and told them that companies can become places of holiness.

The Union brings together Catholic entrepreneurs who set themselves the goal of being the architects for the development of the common good. He told them their emphasis on Christian formation and training -- mainly through the deepening of the social teaching of the Church -- was a noble work. He also spoke about the importance of having the right balance between work and family life.

The pope noted how a company and the executive office of companies can become places of holiness by the commitment of everyone to build fraternal relations between entrepreneurs, managers and workers, encouraging co-responsibility and collaboration in the common interest.

The Holy Father also noted that the call to be missionaries of the social dimension of the Gospel in the difficult and complex world of labor, economics and business involves both being open and staying close to diverse situations such as poverty.

Speaking off the cuff, the pope also spoke about women in the workplace and the challenges they can face. Giving one example, he asked rhetorically:  "How many times has a women gone to her boss and said I am pregnant, and at the end of the month she is let go?" The audience responded with applause.

Pope Francis said that a good way for the business executives to put into practice the grace of the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy would be to increase the number of praiseworthy, concrete works of sharing and solidarity that they support in various parts of Italy.

The pope went on to say that it was necessary to direct economic activity in the evangelical sense -- that is, at the service of the person and the common good. From this perspective, he said "you are called to cooperate in order to grow an entrepreneurial spirit of subsidiarity, to deal with the ethical challenges of the market and, above all, (to meet) the challenge of creating good employment opportunities."

The Holy Father concluded by urging the executives to work together for this purpose, telling those gathered that it would bear fruit," to the extent that the Gospel is alive and present in your hearts, in your mind and in your actions."

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