Vatican Releases 'The Vocation of the Business Leader'
There ought to be no split between faith and daily business practice
The Vocation of the Business Leader is a splendid resource, and one we hope lands on the desks of all business men and women. And, we hope, not only on desks of every business man and woman where it might remain a dead letter, but also on his or her lips and, even more, in his or her mind and in his or her heart. The teachings in the Vocation of the Business Leader ought to be an integral part in the life of business leaders, so that Christ may be found not only in the Temple, but also walking down Wall Street and Main Street.
Issued at a time of "darkness" in the global economy, it is hoped that by following the principles and guidelines of this document Christian leaders will help "restore trust, inspire hope, and keep burning the light of faith that fuels their daily pursuit of the good." These are the stated objectives in the Foreword by Peter K. A. Cardinal Turkson.
Aimed at an audience of business men and women, professors, and students, the guide promotes the vision that there is, in a manner of speaking, a "vocation" that business men and women ought to be cognizant of, regardless of the particular business institutions of which they are part. It is intended to cover the entire gamut of business, from family businesses to multinational corporations, from cooperatives to non-profit business to for-profit business, from industry to banking and finance. (¶ 5)
Though based on traditional Catholic principles, it is thoroughly modern, and incorporates the contemporary realities of the business world, including globalization, communication technologies, and the "financialization" of the economy. (¶ 17-23, 26) It also addresses them fully recognizing the modern prevailing overemphasis on individualism ("'what works for me,' independently of the effects on others") and instant gratification is also recognized. (¶ 17, 24) This latter error is something that must be overcome by the virtue of solidarity.
Solidly grounded in Catholic Social Doctrine, the guide seeks to elaborate on practical principles that are calculated to advance the principles of human dignity and the common good. It seeks to do this based on the promotion of the good and the sustainable creation of wealth and its just distribution, without forgetting the fundamental value of solidarity, especially for the poor and vulnerable.
The Vocation of the Business Leader is quite bullish on the market system as an efficient way to serve the common good, and yet it recognizes that the market system can suffer blight through "absence of the rule of law or international regulations, corruption, destructive competition, crony capitalism, excessive state intervention or a culture hostile to entrepreneurship in one or more of its forms." (¶ 9)
The guide, however, looks less at institutional problems and institutional solutions. It is highly personal and seeks to convince Christian business men and women that they must act with integrity, which is to say that they ought not to lead a "divided" life. (¶ 10) The Church knows that social justice starts with the individual human heart.
Integrity is the theme. There ought to be no "split between faith and daily business practice"; we are not to live a compartmentalized life, as that is a "fundamental error." (¶ 10) Indeed, it might be said to be a form of idolatry, a worship of mammon or a worship of a "golden calf." (¶¶ 10-11) Under the lead of Christian virtue, particularly prudence, and the social doctrine of the Church, the business life must be reconciled to the faith. (¶¶ 13-14)
This reconciliation is done through purifying the way business people see, judge, and act (¶¶ 15-16), so that there is less selfish and short-term focus, and greater weight given to the common good, human dignity, and the just use of the world's resources.
The Vocation of the Business Leader reminds business men and women that they have been given much, and along with the "great resources" at their disposal goes the divine injunction "to do great things." (¶ 1) The use of their particular gifts in building productive organizations that benefit of humankind is to be seen as a sort of "vocation," i.e., an "deep sense of God's calling to be collaborators in creation," one which helps in the "unfolding" in the work of creation. (¶¶ 5-8)
When properly ordered, businesses and markets "make an irreplaceable contribution to the material world and even the spiritual well-being of humankind," and the common good is increased. (¶ 2)
Similarly, when properly managed, business activities also enhance the dignity of employees and promote virtues, including those virtues of ...
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