Cardinal Tells Business Schools: Form Principled Leaders
Cardinal Peter Turkson said business-school leaders need to form students in the Church’s social teaching in all their courses, not just one ethics class.
HOUSTON — Cardinal Peter Turkson has encouraged business-school faculty to teach their students about the Church's social teaching and to form them in ethics, morals and stewardship.
During his April 1 address, the cardinal pointed to the Church's social doctrine and its use in business, asking "that your graduates develop themselves to be 'principled leaders,' not merely market technicians, with their guidance provided by a 'faith with works' philosophy."
Cardinal Turkson, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was speaking at the 2014 Business Ethics Conference for deans of Catholic schools of business, held in Houston.
"Faith is incomplete without a vision of the world and our place within it — our works," the cardinal said, explaining that Catholic social teaching is built upon the truth that Christ “looked for more than faith alone” — for Christians to follow him in action as well.
The principles underlying the Church's social teaching are human dignity, the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity and stewardship, he explained.
These principles can be applied to the business world, and when taught to students, "these same beacons or lenses will help them to make sound judgments and act accordingly."
Cardinal Turkson emphasized that "multidimensional business enterprise contributes to the larger common good by fulfilling its threefold purpose of good goods, good work and good wealth”: focusing on "truly good" service, "good and productive work" and being "good stewards of the resources given to them."
Business should "not to be reduced to a single objective, such as maximizing profit or enhancing shareholder wealth,” he explained, “just as marriage should not be reduced to sentiment between partners, or education to credentials for a career."
He warned that morality is often separated from business, adding that "education and formation is much larger than the objectives of a few ethics courses."
By focusing only upon the market, students learn "that the marketplace and business decisions are morally neutral," and the consequences of this attitude – such as the financial crisis of 2007-08 – "can be ruinous."
To relegate ethics to a course, and have the rest of the courses be 'non-ethical,' is to foster the divided life — deformation rather than formation."
The cardinal said to the Catholic business-school leaders that, by attending a Catholic school, students "have an opportunity to learn that respecting everyone, whether employee, shareholder, supplier, client or other stakeholder, provides the foundations for long-term success."
Cardinal Turkson encouraged the educators to present students with ethical case studies that they will meet in their daily lives and teach students how to act "when confronted with decisions that are immoral."
He challenged the educators to "shape business through research and by forming future business leaders."
The current economic system holds ethical and systemic problems, Cardinal Turkson said, and business leaders can help form a solution "grounded in fundamental truth about our human nature and destiny."