Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

10/23/2008 (6 years ago)

Inside Catholic (www.insidecatholic.com)

An interview with Frank J. Hanna III, one of the leading Catholic philanthropists in the USA

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Inside Catholic (www.insidecatholic.com)

10/23/2008 (6 years ago)

Published in U.S.


WASHINGTON, DC (Inside Catholic) - Frank J. Hanna III has become one of the leading Catholic philanthropists in the nation. His Solidarity Foundation recently obtained the oldest extant copy of portions of the Gospels of Luke and John and presented them to Pope Benedict XVI for the Vatican Library. A merchant banker in Atlanta, Hanna is the CEO of HBR Capital, Ltd., an administrative services firm, and CEO of Hanna Capital, LLC, an investment firm. Hanna has promoted educational liberty for over two decades, helped to start three new Catholic schools in Atlanta, led various efforts for school reform, and chaired the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

Recently, Deal Hudson sat down with Hanna to discuss his recent book, What Your Money Means: And How to Use it Well (Crossroads Publishing, 2008).

♦ ♦ ♦

Deal W. Hudson: With the current financial crisis, do you think more people are asking themselves what their money means?

Frank J. Hanna III: Absolutely. There was some concern about the timing of this book, given the election year, but the current financial crisis has made people more interested in reflecting on how they have used their money. I'm seeing an anxiety today that wasn't being experienced a month ago or six months ago. People are wondering if they are too attached to their money and other material goods. They're asking, "Is the way I am spending money helping me to be a better person?"

Hudson: You talk about the earth being a "pure" gift from God, along with other goods He has bestowed upon us. But you add that what we've been given is not a "free lunch." What do you mean by this?

Hanna: Just because we have the freedom to engage in imprudent financial endeavors doesn't mean we have license to do so.The extension of credit is a wonderful thing. It can start a business or provide for a child's college education. When we condemn debt, we forget it is the other side of credit. The word "credit" comes from "credo" or "to believe," and like all good things it can be abused through imprudence or greed.

Hudson: You say we have the responsibility of learning to manage our money well. Are you seeing a breakdown in management in our financial institutions?

Hanna: Sometimes, but I reject the notion that greed was the cause of our current money crisis. It's not intentional malfeasance but an emphasis on materialism combined with a benign neglect of how to manage our money.
John D. Rockefeller said, "It is harder to give money away than to make it." I don't agree with him, but I do think we should be deliberate in how we use our money.

Hudson: I don't think I learned growing up how to use money as a tool. I wasn't taught this except by looking around and seeing how others did it. How did you learn this?

Hanna: I'm not an author; I'm a businessman and investor. I try to be deliberate and thoughtful on how to use my money well. In seeking guidance on how to do this, I found snippets of information. This subject of how to use our material resources isn't taught today.Of course, there is much ancient and medieval wisdom on this very subject, but there is no systematic philosophy being used today to teach people how to use their resources wisely.

Hudson: Books about money and how to spend it are normally relegated to the business section pages of the newspapers, news magazines, and cable news shows. You've treated the subject in the context of the general morality and the virtues humans should practice in using their material resources.

Hanna: We divide too much of our lives into sections, like a newspaper. But when we do this, we have too much segmentation. When as human beings we eat together, converse, spend our money, play sports, engage in commerce, and we segregate these activities, we lose some of the integrated whole. We tend to act with one type of morality or spirituality with each segment and, I think, we do damage to our souls.We should not be afraid to talk about and discuss money. Our children should be taught how to think about using money instead of letting the popular culture do this.

Hudson: My parents were a product of the end of the depression and World War II, and so I was taught to save to the point that I was tired of hearing about it. I never learned about spending money but rather that I was supposed to save it.

Hanna: There is a perception that there is something "dirty" about having money. In fact, money is one of God's gifts that allows us to have transactions, relationships, and build prosperity.However, it is such a powerful instrument that it's subject to abuse if we become too attached to it -- and if we do, something sordid does occur. We've all seen this in our own hearts, and so we start to associate that sordidness with the money itself, and we back off from it, and won't talk about it.

Hudson: Most of the high-profile discussions of money fall on one of two sides: capitalism and the defense of private property versus communism or socialism. The wealthy are perceived as being tainted by their wealth, and that wealth really should be redistributed. Your book appeals to both sides of that debate.

Hanna: I tried to take what is good from each side. The freedom within a market economy encourages prosperity. The Left says this system doesn't care for those less able to help themselves.While the market economy does enhance prosperity, it is not there for unselfish pursuits. There should be a combination of the market economy and the common good. You hear more about the common good from the Left, but all should uphold this; we are our brother's keeper. We do have responsibility to other human beings. If we don't have the "leavening" in the market system, it can leave out those less capable.

Hudson: Something I found in your book that would not make some happy is that, in serving the common good, you encourage the private ownership of wealth, and the private management and growth of that money. This ensures there will be more to invest in business, more employment, and more to give away philanthropically.Correct?

Hanna: We see in St. Thomas Aquinas that private ownership serves the common good more effectively than common ownership by the state. An ancient Jewish philosopher said that the greatest form of charity is to help people help themselves. In this country that's what's known as a job; this preserves the dignity of the human being. We need to be careful about extending financial charity; our good intentions alone are not sufficient. When the state is asked to administer charity it is at best a clumsy instrument for helping preserve human dignity.

Hudson: You have a rather startling line in your book that says, "Money is love in action."

Hanna: When you buy clothes for your children, this is an act of love. You must ask yourself if you are growing in virtue, care, and concern for others when you make expenditures. This is a very high standard, and one that I certainly don't always meet, but a standard we should apply especially to our larger expenditures.

Hudson: Should the standard you're talking about be applied to our government? Should we be asking our government to use our money as acts of love as well?

Hanna: This is the theoretical premise behind the Constitution. A relationship exists between the giver and the receiver, but the larger the government gets the less authentic the relationship becomes.I believe that subsidiarity, social action within a community, should begin at the lowest level -- the family, neighborhood, and community. We should not rely on the federal bureaucracy to administer to the common good.

Hudson: I'm struck by the thought that you cannot look at your wealth as independent of your community or even your world. You don't look at your wealth as something that protects you alone -- that ensures that you and yours are taken care of. You seem to work under a larger rubric.

Hanna: Well, I hope I do. I'm aspiring to do this, but it's hard to escape personal selfishness. I have found that when we hoard things for ourselves, and focus inwardly on "what's in it for me," we reap only anxiety and misery. Through trial and error, I have found that selfishness doesn't lead to happiness; generosity is a better guide.

Hudson: Do you think that the attitude toward wealth is changing because of the financial turmoil?

Hanna: This is a crisis, but embedded within any crisis is opportunity. There is an opportunity for people to reorient themselves, realizing that we are all more connected than we imagined. From a theological standpoint this is what we believe: The material world is tied together, interconnected.

Hudson: Isn't there a temptation in this current crisis to make people look more selfishly at their money -- even hoard it?

Hanna: People will reorient one way or another. They will reassess and become either more detached or more attached to their money. Candidly, I'm seeing both reactions. I've spoken to some families who say they are looking at how they spend their money.The flip side is that some will be more mindful of how much they have, double their efforts to hoard, and cut back or withhold giving to charities.

Hudson: What has been the reaction to your book from fellow philanthropists?

Hanna: The reaction from businesspeople has been very encouraging. They tell me that they've often wondered about these questions and are grateful for my explanations and a summary of these issues.

Hudson: You have a "how to" dimension to your book, as well. You offer concrete advice on how much to give away, how to judge whom to give it to, and how to gauge the results of your giving -- a very practical side. Was this harder to write than the theoretical side?

Hanna: No, I think it was actually a little easier. I've been immersed in the practical side for years. The practical approach is critical. You have to ask yourself, "How much is enough? How much should I give away?" These are practical suggestions; there are no hard and fast rules, but I think we need to be more rigorous and practical about our giving.

Hudson: Some people will say it's fine for you to give with your wealth, but what about those just scraping by month to month?

Hanna: The word philanthropy combines one of the Greek words for love, philo, with the word for man, anthropos. It is possible to give from whatever resources one may have; giving is not beyond the reach of anyone. There is always something -- such as time, attention, money, or prayers -- given in love to someone else.Our most tangible resources are money and material goods, but we need a broader understanding of all our God-given gifts.

---------------------------------------------------------
Deal W. Hudson is the director of InsideCatholic.com and the author of Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States (Simon and Schuster).


---

The mission of InsideCatholic.com is to be a voice for authentic Catholicism in the public square.We believe that truth is both attractive and compelling and that in the marketplace of ideas, it will invariably win out.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Risk for massive earthquake in California increases as scientists find dangerous helium coming from fault zone Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Researchers recently discovered helium leaking from a giant fault in the Earth's crust near Los Angeles, as well as discovering an increase in chance for California to have an 8.0 magnitude earthquake. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - They did not expect the ... continue reading


United States prepares for Fourth of July amidst threat of ISIS attacks Watch

Image of The U.S. Government prepares for possible terrorist attacks this coming Independence Day celebration in the U.S.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Three days before the United States' Independence Day, the FBI has already began setting up command centers in all of the 56 field offices across the country prior to the fourth. The U.S. Government is preparing for possible terrorist attacks and terrorist threats that ... continue reading


America's MOST and LEAST patriotic states in 2015 Watch

Image of Virginia [not pictured] has been named the most patriotic state.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A recent American pride survey, published on June 29, 2015, revealed Virginia to be at the top of the current list of the most patriotic states in the USA. WalletHub, a consumer website, evaluated the military and civic engagement of all 50 states, included in the ... continue reading


The Martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul Invites Us Into a New Missionary Age Watch

Image of On this great Feast we need to rededicate ourselves to being true witnesses, with an adult faith, willing to participate fully in this new missionary age of the Catholic Church. May the blood of the Martyrs continue to be the seed of the Church. St. Peter and St. Paul, pray for us!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Since at least the Third Century, Christians have commemorated this day as a Solemnity, the day when the two pillars of the Church, the great Apostles, Peter and Paul, met the Lord whom they served with such beauty, face to face in the communion of eternal love. ... continue reading


Junior lifeguard competition cancelled after 15 great white sharks spotted swimming near shore in California beach Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The NorCal Junior Lifeguards competition was cancelled following the reported sightings of at least 15 great white sharks swimming near the shore in Aptos, Santa Cruz. Helicopters and boats were sent off to determine the situation before the event, confirming that ... continue reading


Fear of ISIS expansion along U.S. border grows Watch

Image of The fear of the ISIS breaching security in the southern borders of the U.S. is being addressed by the government.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United States is considering the possible breach in the security of its southern borders. With drugs, illegal immigrants and several illegal activities being localized in this area, the militant group, ISIS may actually target this region for their terrorist plans. ... continue reading


United States Population: More minority children than whites, more whites dying than being born Watch

Image of Minority children are currently dominating the number of native Americans in the US.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United States' population is composed of Americans and millions of immigrants and foreigners considered to be part of the "minority group." As the years pass, the American population is now starting to become dominated by the "minority group."roup. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


8-year-old boy bitten by shark in knee-deep water, fourth case over past two weeks in NC Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A frantic 911 call was made after an 8-year-old boy was bitten by a shark while swimming in knee-deep water at a beach in North Carolina. During the emergency call, the boy is heard screaming, as the caller tells the operator that his foot has punctured holes and ... continue reading


California legislature's who HATE Catholics want Father Juniper Serra statue OUT of Capitol Watch

Image of Bl. Junipero Serra played a leading role in California history, helping to convert thousands of native Californians to Christianity and teaching them new technologies.

By CNA/EWTN News

A statue of Franciscan missionary and saint-to-be Father Junipero Serra has stood in the U.S. Capitol since 1931, but its future may depend on an upcoming hearing in the California legislature and the success of a "Let's Save Serra" campaign. SACRAMENTO, CA ... continue reading


HERE COMES THE POPE - As many as 1.5 million faithful expected to greet Pope Francis in Philadelphia in September Watch

Image of More than 1.5 million people are expected for the Mass with Pope Francis in at that time. About 12,000 people were registered for the congress earlier this month.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Excitement is building for the visit from Pope Francis in Philadelphia this coming September. The Pope will be there for the once-every-three-years World Meeting of Families from September 22 through 25. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput met with the Pope after the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 21:5, 8-20
5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 34:7-8, 10-11, 12-13
7 The angel of Yahweh encamps around those who fear ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 8:28-34
28 When he reached the territory of the Gadarenes on ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 1st, 2015 Image

Bl. Junipero Serra
July 1: Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter