Promoting the holistic development of everyone requires conversion, "and especially decisions that convert death into life and weapons into food," Pope Francis said.

As many nations begin returning to a semblance of normal, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, governments and economists and citizens must act now to look carefully at what that "normal" was, judge what was good or bad about it and act to make life better for everyone, the pope said in a message June 15 to the Bratislava Forum.

The forum, sponsored by the thinktank GLOBSEC, brings together politicians, business leaders and others to focus on issues of importance for the people of Central and Eastern Europe.

To work for a better future, the pope said, an honest assessment of the past, "including the acknowledgment of systemic failures, past errors and lack of responsibility with regard to the Creator, our neighbor and all creation, strikes me as essential for the development of a model of recovery aimed not only at rebuilding what was, but also correcting the things that were not working, even before the advent of the coronavirus, and that ended up making the crisis worse."

In looking around, he said, "what I see is a world that allowed itself to be duped by a false and arrogant sense of security based on a thirst for profit."

"I see a model of economic and social life marked by many forms of inequality and selfishness where a tiny minority of the world population possesses most of its wealth and does not hesitate to exploit people and resources," he said. And "I see a way of life that is insufficiently concerned for the environment."

Urging the forum participants to act, Pope Francis insisted that promoting development must be done in a way that is centered "each person and the whole person" and "embraces the ethics of solidarity and political charity."