Christians should integrate their faith with their work in the private sector, the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace told business leaders as he launched a new teaching document.
“Humanity is to make creation serve its needs through the transformative power of work,” Cardinal Peter K. Turkson told 2,000 Christian businesspeople in Lyon, France. “In its exercise of business, therefore, humanity would become a 'rock' that sustains creation through the practice of love and justice.”
“And this appears to be really the vocation of the Christian business leader: to practice love and justice and to teach the business household for which he or she is responsible to do likewise, for the sustenance of all creation, beginning with our brothers and sisters.”
Cardinal Turkson addressed the 24th International Christian Union of Business Executives (UNIAPAC) World Congress on March 30, taking up themes of the pontifical council's new document “Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection.”
He described the 30-page text – which grew out of a February 2011 seminar on Pope Benedict XVI's social encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” – as “a helpful guide to business leaders seeking to grow in the virtue of charity as befits their vocation.”
A major problem for Christians in the modern world, according to the document, is the temptation of a “divided life” – involving a “split between the faith which many profess, and their daily lives.”
This separation of faith from professional life “is a fundamental error which contributes to much of the damage done by businesses in our world today” – including the neglect of family life, an “unhealthy attachment to power,” and the “abuse of economic power” that disregards the common good.
The pontifical council's critique of the “divided life” is rooted in the words of Christ himself, who taught that “no one can be the slave of two masters … You cannot love both God and money.”
“Business leaders who do not see themselves serving others and God in their working lives will fill the void of purpose with a less worthy substitute,” the text notes. “The divided life is not unified or integrated: it is fundamentally disordered, and thus fails to live up to God’s call.”
The suggested remedy involves a greater awareness of the Church's social teaching, and an embrace of the “universal call to holiness” in the professional sphere.
“A devout spiritual life is absolutely indispensable,” Cardinal Turkson told business leaders in his Lyon address. “One should be receiving the sacraments and praying frequently. When the spiritual gifts are sought, they will give one the grace to live an integrated life, and keep one from living a divided life.”
The justice and peace council's new document notes that these are “not optional actions for a Christian,” nor are they “mere private acts separated and disconnected from business.”
Rather, by approaching work through the eyes of faith, lay people can continue Christ's mission within their field of employment.
As Cardinal Turkson notes in the preface to “Vocation of the Business Leader,” the Church “does not relinquish the hope that Christian business leaders will, despite the present darkness, restore trust, inspire hope, and keep burning the light of faith that fuels their daily pursuit of the good.”
In Lyon, the cardinal told business leaders that an economic paradigm “centered on capital gains” has been shown to be obsolete.
Instead, he urged entrepreneurs to focus on doing God's will in the private sector – meeting “the needs of the world with goods that are truly good and truly beneficial,” and organizing work “in a manner that is respectful of human dignity.”