Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 21, 2010
Grow a conscience, encyclical tells execs
Volatile economic times cry out for direction from the Church
THE B.C. CATHOLIC
WEST VANCOUVER - Virgilijus Kaulius spent most of his life in the business world and one thing was missing, he says: the insight of the Catholic Church.
Kaulius is getting that insight now, thanks to Pope Benedict's encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Kaulius attended a recent lecture on the encyclical at Christ the Redeemer Church in West Vancouver.
After the recent economic meltdown, the pope's latest encyclical has become more relevant than ever. Even Protestants have been reading Charity in Truth, debating the merits of its doctrine and engaging Benedict's declaration that "truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity."
At over 27,000 words, it isn't a short document. That's why Daniel Hahn, coordinator of the office of service and justice at the Vancouver Archdiocese, explained the encyclical at the seminar.
Unwrapping a profoundly theological and intellectual document isn't always an easy task, but Kaulius thought Hahn delivered a solid account of what the encyclical was all about.
"It was very well articulated," Kaulius said of Hahn's explanation.
CONCEPTS MADE RELEVANT
"It's a difficult encyclical to summarize in such a short space of time, but he certainly highlighted the key concepts and spoke well in engaging the audience in the phrasing of the concepts. He made them come alive."
Kaulius said the encyclical offers something that is sorely missing in the media and business world today, namely ethics.
"Most of my life was spent in the business sphere, and absent is a Catholic theological presence impacting the value system of the business world. Nobody is speaking about it."
Kaulius thinks Catholics are uniquely suited to tackle the present problems. "We are in a leadership position because we have very good core theology in our 2,000-year tradition."
He reinforced Benedict's writing, saying the insignificance of the individual is a major concern. "The shareholders, and those in power running corporations, override the stakeholders."
In his summary of Charity in Truth, Hahn emphasized the key points of the document, including Benedict's observation that "you can't have love without truth," and his comment on the "emptiness of ethics without objective reality."
The document says there is a "genuine development of humanity which respects the common good, which respects the image of God within each person. This ensures the dignity of the human person," Hahn said.
It also calls for economic systems, and indeed all societal structures, to acknowledge it, he said.
"Benedict is writing that we need to do so in a manner that is truly humane, that truly addresses the dignity of the human person, and that is really for the common good."
SHOPPING A MORAL ACT
Citing consumer behaviour as an example, Hahn said spending decisions are "a moral act, not just an economic act. The economy cannot be an end in itself. We can't serve the economy. The economy has to start serving man."
Kaulius thinks the solution to the problems the pope writes about is to get more priests and lay people involved in economics, bringing proper ethics into the business sphere.
"I'm thrilled with Benedict giving these principles and wisely staying out of giving the answers as to how these principles will be implemented," Kaulius said.
"We need a literate, Catholic, theological consortium to now say, 'How do we implement these very good principles and get the interest of the business world?' That way, we can start bringing it into the classrooms of the MBA programs, because they drive a lot of the managerial talent in the business world."
(Special note: Virgilijus Kaulius passed away suddenly on May 18 from complications related to a heart attack.)
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