The daily decisions of businesspeople, from the CEO of an
international corporation to a burgeoning entrepreneur, can
have lasting effects on politics, economics and culture, as
well as on the poor and marginalized. An upcoming conference
at Catholic University in Washington will explore how
Catholic social teaching can inform such responsibility and
offer practical ways attendees can practice their faith and
promote inclusive prosperity.
The conference is co-hosted by the university's school of
business and economics and the Napa Institute, a
California-based organization working to advance the Catholic
faith in secular society.
To be a Catholic businessperson means more than attending
Mass and keeping the Ten Commandments, said Andrew Abela,
provost of Catholic U. and the first speaker at the March
16-18 event. "We also have the mandate to be Christ to
others, (and) Catholic social doctrine addresses the moral
and ethical quandaries business people face, offering useful
principles to guide action."
Entitled "Human Ecology: Integrating 125 Years of Catholic
Social Doctrine," the conference focuses on three
encyclicals: Pope Leo XIII's "Rerum Novarum" ("Of
Revolutionary Change"), St. John Paul II's "Centesimus
Annus" ("Hundredth Year") and Pope Francis' "Laudato
Si'" ("May You Be Praised").
This year marks anniversaries for the encyclicals - 125
years, a quarter-century and one year, respectively - and the
conference will show how each work builds upon its
"Catholic social doctrine remains constant, but it is
constantly formulated for the time we are in, so that aspects
of daily life are explained in a way that is relevant," said
conference organizer Andreas Widmer, director of
entrepreneurship programs at Catholic U.
Abela, a parishioner of St. Catherine of Siena Church in
Great Falls, said "Rerum Novarum" discusses our duty
to the poor and places emphasis on the virtues. In
"Centesimus Annus," St. John Paul II "builds upon Pope
Leo's words and says that there must be economic and
political stability for people to rise out of poverty," he
said. Pope Francis pulls the themes together in speaking
about "our common home." Yet "Laudato Si,'" added
Abela, is not only about natural ecology, but also human
ecology - the relationship between humans and their economic,
social and political organizations.
While much attention has been focused on the encyclical's
discussion of natural ecology, Abela said his talk will point
out that "human ecology is of primary importance" in the
work. "We need to address human ecology with the same moral
and scientific resolve as we address natural ecology," he
Additional conference speakers include Cardinal Peter
Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and
Peace; Juan José Daboub, former managing director of
the World Bank; and Michael Novak, former ambassador to the
U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Widmer said he invited
guests who could bring an international perspective, and
their talks will explore a range of topics, including
religious liberty, the impact of faith on capitalism and the
role of justice in economics and business.
Around 150 people are expected to attend, with academics and
religious leaders joining businessmen and businesswomen.
Widmer wanted to keep the conference small enough so that
speakers are accessible to attendees, and each day includes
time for networking and discussion.
The conference, the second of its kind at Catholic U., is an
occasion for spiritual growth and will provide opportunities
for confession and Mass at the Basilica of the National
Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The paramount goal of the conference, said Abela, "is that
participants go back to their businesses, work or ministry
and make the most of their own gifts and capacities to put
Catholic social doctrine into action."
The registration deadline for the conference is March 10.
Go here or call