His Holiness Pope Francis sent a video message to the participants in the 8th Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church, taking place in the Italian city of Verona on 22-25 November. The Pontiff said the event’s theme – “The risk of freedom” – invites reflection on what has always underpinned the experience of men, women, societies, and civilizations. “As Christians,” he noted, “we are called to be attentive and vigilant so that the ‘risk of freedom’ does not lose its highest and most demanding meaning.”

As reported by Vatican news, The Pontiff said Christians must work together to overcome “whatever deprives men and women of the treasure of freedom.” His Holiness Pope Francis then spoke about three situations in which people have difficulty living their God-given freedom: extreme poverty, technological domination, and reduction of the person to a consumer. The Pontiff said indigence, or extreme hardship and poverty, is caused by “great injustices” that come from the culture of waste, which views people as “leftovers”. His Holiness Pope Francis said technological development can also negatively impact human freedom, “when it is not accompanied by adequate improvements in responsibility, values, and conscience.”

Finally, His Holiness Pope Francis said there is a danger of reducing people to mere consumers. He said the freedom to risk becomes an illusion. The Pontiff also invited participants in the Social Doctrine Festival not to lose the desire to “risk” their freedom.