Pope Francis Meets Co-op Leaders

On October 15, His Holiness Pope Francis met with a group of cooperative movement leaders in Argentina. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this sort of development; before he became pope, Cardinal Bergoglio was a supporter of co-ops in his native Argentina, where he saw their benefits during that country’s 2002 financial crisis. It is great work that the Argentine and global leadership has had this meeting, and it will be very interesting to see what comes.

I’m creating a compilation of links to existing writing about this month’s meeting. Most coverage to date has been in Spanish, and in such cases I’ll link both to the original and to a robo-translation.

The International Co-operative Alliance has provided a report that is – so far – the only original reporting I’ve found in English. In it, ICA President Dame Pauline Green is quoted: “The co-operative sector is delighted to share this vision for a more inclusive, balanced and empowering society. It is another sign that the co-operative sector is working with the grain of society…Something is moving in society, and co-operatives are proud to be a driving, but highly sustainable platform for an economy in which their voice is heard.

Update: Dame Pauline’s 10/23 blog post includes this rather stunning statement: 

It’s true to say that we were all mightily impressed with The Pope’s intimate knowledge and understanding of our movement. All alone with no staff or advisers and not a note or briefing paper to be seen, he spoke our  co-operative language during a 45 minute informal discussion. Stopping once with a laugh to apologise for giving us a sermon, the Pope argued that global leaders need to understand that co-ops are not just something for moments of crisis, but the way in which economic life should go in the future.

Ariel Guarco, president of the Argentine apex association COOPERAR as well as ICA board candidate, was present at the meeting and wrote this statement on his Facebook feed. He notes that an improved standard of living “is what we defend from the cooperative movement, and we think that the search for a more equal and fair society is aligned with the Gospel.”

COOPERAR has also posted an article (original) and a (translation-resistant) album of photos from the meeting.

ICA Americas provided their own coverage (original), which includes a link to the letter provided to the pope, inviting him to send a message of support to the upcoming ICA General Assembly in South Africa November 1-5.

Update: The ICA has alerted me to several stories, auto-translated below:

Please let me know if you come across (or create) any human translations of these sources and I’ll swap them in as they emerge. And of course, please let me know of any new coverage that I’ve overlooked. I’ll continue to update this post as needed, until some new wrinkle warrants a new thread.

I’ll probably write a bit more about the implications of all this later.

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2 Responses to Pope Francis Meets Co-op Leaders

  1. Edd Ringlein says:

    Hi Andrew,
    We met in Santa Rosa where you presented a day long workshop on cooperatives at the Share Exchange. I was wondering if you would be interested in participating in a discussion of your work in “Holy Cooperation” and its relationship to the papal letters on catholic social teachings. As a follow up to Pope Francis’ “Joy of the Gospel”, a discussion of all the writings on social justice and their instruction on lifestyle relating to sharing of skills and resources as you’ve demonstrated in your book is what I am proposing. Please let me know if this is something you would be able to fit into your schedule.

    • coopgeek says:

      Hi Edd,
      Thanks for the idea! I’ve been extremely interested in Pope Francis and his increasingly radical teachings on economics. I would love to explore this and I’ll send you an email to work out some details. – Andrew

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