On March 30, Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP), addressed the XXIV UNIAPAC World Congress in Lyon, France. UNIAPAC is the International Christian Union of Business Executives, traditionally referred to by the acronym for its former name, Union Internationale des Associations Patronales Catholiques. Cardinal Turkson presented “Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection.” It is a seminal document from the Vatican that highlights the good that business can do from a Christian perspective.

The 30-page reflection had its beginning at an international seminar of business leaders and scholars in Rome, titled Caritas in Veritate: The Logic of Gift and the Meaning of Business, held Feb. 24 to 26, 2011, and cosponsored by the University of St. Thomas’ John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought.

In light of the constructive and lively exchanges at the seminar, the PCJP appointed a committee to write a handbook or guide for business men and women and business educators that addresses the important role of vocation for the business leader in today’s global economy and the contribution of the Church’s social principles for the modern corporation.

The University of St. Thomas faculty played a major role in the development of the document with significant contributions from Michael Naughton and Robert Kennedy of the Center for Catholic Studies and Ken Goodpaster of the Opus College of Business.

As important and as rich as the Catholic social tradition is, its principles have not always been effectively communicated to the business community. For many business people, the social principles of the church are perceived as well intentioned but too abstract to have any impact. “Vocation of the Business Leader” was designed to be concise, easily accessible and eminently practical. It begins with an executive summary that provides business leaders with a larger perspective of the global and personal dilemmas business people face today. It then explores the complex factors business people must weigh and balance and offers practical, ethical principles with which to examine these problems in the light of Catholic social teaching. It ends with a unique personal examination that is a discernment checklist for the business leader. It is hoped that the vocation document will be a valuable resource for use in personal reflection, boardroom discussions and classroom study.

Copies of “Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection” can be ordered online and read in its entirety at www.stthomas.edu/cathstudies/cst/VocationBusinessLead.

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