Pope Francis Saturday criticized what he said is a “tragic” and false dichotomy that has been created between religious ethics and the economic-financial sector of society, telling business leaders that the two are not only compatible, but necessary for social advancement.  

“All too often, a tragic and false dichotomy – analogous to the artificial rift between science and faith – has developed between the ethical teachings of our religious traditions and the practical concerns of today’s business community,” the pope said May 26.

However, there is “a natural circularity between profit and social responsibility,” and there is an “indissoluble connection” between an ethics that respects both the human person and the common good, and the functionality of economic and financial systems, he said.

This ethical dimension of social and economic interaction “cannot be imported into social life and activity from without, but must arise from within,” he said, adding that this is a long-term goal that requires the commitment of all persons and institutions in society.

Pope Francis spoke to members of the Centesimus Annus-Pro Pontefice institution, who are in Rome May 24-26 for an international convention titled “New policies and lifestyles in the digital age,” marking their 25th anniversary.

The foundation was founded in 1993 by St. John Paul II to study and promote Catholic social teaching.

Among the high-profile participants in the gathering was Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who gave a lengthy keynote speech on the last day of the conference.

Sitting beside Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and the president of Centesimus Annus Domingo Sugranyes Bickel, Bartholomew condemned a widespread culture of consumerism and indifference, and advocated for greater solidarity and collaboration in pursuing human development in an increasingly globalized world.

During the conference, Bartholomew met with both Pope Francis and retired pontiff Benedict XVI. He spoke to Benedict Friday, and he met Francis in a private audience at the Vatican Saturday morning.

In his speech, Pope Francis spoke on themes brought up in the recent Vatican document Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones, (Economic and financial issues), published by Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

He said current financial and social challenges faced by the global community “have an undeniable ethical dimension” and are related “to a mentality of egoism and exclusion that has effectively created a culture of waste blind to the human dignity of the most vulnerable.”

This can be seen by the increasing “globalization of indifference” in front of blatant moral challenges humanity faces, he said, citing migration and a lack of development not only in materially poor countries, but also increasingly in the “opulence of the developed world.”

Referring to the conference theme, Francis noted how one major threat to families is a lack of stable jobs and the impact of the “digital cultural revolution,” which he said is “a vital area in which the solidarity of the Church is actively needed” and is a key theme in the upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people.

When it comes to ensuring a better future for young people and families, Francis said ecumenical cooperation “is of especial importance,” and cited the presence of Patriarch Bartholomew at the conference as “an eloquent sign of this common responsibility.”

Pope Francis closed his speech urging attendees to “persevere in these efforts which contribute to the building of a global culture of economic justice, equality and inclusion.”