On May 17, 2001, Pope John Paul II received in audience the 300 participants of a meeting promoted by the Ethics and Economy Foundation of Bassano del Grappa, Italy, which gathers people from various nations and cultures. The Holy Father encouraged the members of this new foundation as they strive towards a "well-articulated reflection on globalization, solidarity and free economic initiatives based on solid ethical and spiritual values." He animated them "to pursue this work to insert into the economic field the expectations and indications of the Magisterium and Social Doctrine of the Church."
The Pope said that globalization is "no doubt a phenomenon which allows for great possibilities for growth and producing riches" but "many also admit that per se it does not assure fair distribution of goods among the citizens of various countries. In reality, the wealth produced often remains in the hands of only a few, with a consequent further loss of sovereignty of national States, already rather weak in the area of development, and leads up to a global system governed by a few centers in the hands of private individuals. Free market is, without a doubt, an irrevocable character of our times, but there also exists, however, imperative human needs that cannot be left at the mercy of this perspective, with the risk of being absorbed."
John Paul Il contended that "man must be the protagonist, not the slave, of the means of production... Globalization is... a phenomenon which is intrinsically ambivalent, halfway between a potential good for mankind and social damage with serious consequences."