Vocation of The Business Leader

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From the 24th to 26th of February 2011 a seminar entitled “Caritas in Veritate: The Logic of Gift and the Meaning of Business” was held at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP), in collaboration with the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought of the Center for Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas and the Ecophilos Foundation. The meeting followed the October 2010 conference “Caritas in Veritate and the USA”, which the PCJP held in partnership with the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies of Los Angeles, and continued its study of business organizations in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s social encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Underlying both meetings is the Church’s firm conviction that all Christians are called to practice charity in a manner corresponding to their vocation and according to the degree of influence they wield in the polis (CIV, 7).

Business men and women, university professors, and experts on the subject centred their three days of discussions on a previously published volume of texts. The intense and fruitful meeting resulted in the resolution to write a kind of vade-mecum for business men and women. It would also be a handbook to be utilized by professors in formative moments and for instruction in schools and universities. This is the origin of the reflections contained in this volume, “Vocation of the Business Leader”. The volume is intended as an educational aid that speaks of the “vocation” of the business men and women who act in a wide range of business institutions: cooperatives, multinational corporations, family businesses, social businesses, for-profit/non-profit collaborations and so on; and of the challenges and opportunities that the business world offers them in the context of intense technological communications, short-term financial practices, and profound cultural changes.

Business leaders are called to engage with the contemporary economic and financial world in light of the principles of human dignity and the common good. This reflection offers business leaders, members of their institutions, and various stakeholders a set of practical principles that can guide them in their service of the common good. Among these principles, we recall the principle of meeting the needs of the world with goods that are truly good and truly serve without forgetting, in a spirit of solidarity, the needs of the poor and the vulnerable; the principle of organising work within enterprises in ways that respect human dignity; the principle of subsidiarity, which fosters a spirit of initiative and increases the competence of the employees who are thereby considered “co-entrepreneurs”; and, finally, the principle of the sustainable creation of wealth and its just distribution among the various stakeholders.

These are difficult times for the world economy, during which many business men and women have suffered the consequences of crises that deeply reduced the income of their enterprises, risked their survival, and threatened many jobs. Nevertheless, the Church maintains the hope that Christian business leaders will, despite the present darkness, restore trust, inspire hope, and keep burning the light of faith that fuels their daily pursuit of the good. Indeed, it is worth recalling that Christian faith is not only the light that burns in the heart of believers but also the propulsive force of human history.

Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson, Bishop Mario Toso