“Every economic decision has a moral consequence.” - Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate
The Book of Genesis tells us that our first parents were commanded by God to "fill the earth and subdue it" and that they were placed in the garden of this world "to cultivate and care for it" (Gen 1:28 and 2:15) All of man's creative activity is thus seen as part of our human dignity and vocation to be co-creators with God, and this means that every form of human labor and enterprise has great dignity and noble purpose. Thinking about the economic dimension of our vocation to holiness is one goal of Catholic social teaching, the result of a century of philosophical and theological reflection by some of the Church's finest minds on the dignity of work, the relationship between capital and labor, the responsibility to care for the poor, the universal destination of goods, and the principles that should guide practical decision making on all of these fronts. The Center's program Venture Fidelis assists them in understanding this body of teaching and integrate it into their professional work and personal lives. Special attention is given to examining the concept of social justice as a personal virtue to be acquired by individuals rather than as a political ideology to be enforced by governments.
Too often Church leaders have ignored entrepreneurs and viewed them with suspicion, assuming greedy and socially destructive motives for their endeavors. But in so doing, these leaders display a poor grasp of the entrepreneurial vocation and what it adds to society. The entrepreneur holds a rare blend of God-given gifts and skills, such as vision, efficiency, industry, and an openness to risk. The entrepreneur takes these gifts and combines them with insight into the concrete needs of others, in order to creatively and productively fill these needs. In the process, he employs the labor of others, giving them a meaningful means to support their families. And in the end, creates wealth and prosperity that had not existed before. All this comes to be through his faithful service, and Church leaders must begin to embrace the work of entrepreneurs and offer ministry to this group of servants in an effort to build the Church.
Harmonizing Faith and Leadership in a Work Environment
Businesses have the potential to be a force for great good in any society, and many live up to their moral and economic promise. Numerous obstacles, however, may stand in the way of realizing this potential. Chief among these obstacles at a personal level is a divided life, or what Vatican II called “the split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives.” It is “one of the more serious errors of our lives.” As followers of Jesus Christ everything about us must be measured and guided by the Gospel: our thoughts, words, deeds, relationships, spending habits, political convictions, religious beliefs, leisure activities, lifestyle choices, business decisions… in sum, everything. In this total surrender Christ we ultimately find not a restriction of our freedom, but rather true freedom itself: not the license to do whatever we want but the liberty to do everything we should. Because of societal pressures, however, it is becoming more and more difficult for Catholics to live a fully integrated life where their faith shapes all of their choices, even within the realm of business.
Recent court battles over Catholic moral issues of employer-funded contraception, sterilization and abortion serve as an example of how external culture creates barriers for business leaders to work in accord with his/her Christian principles. Trends in U.S. culture are increasing the difficulty for Catholic entrepreneurs and business leaders to harmonize their faith with their work environment. Anti-Catholic business trends further compounds the difficulty for Catholic entrepreneurs to create new companies that successfully achieve job creation, wealth creation and work ethic for society. One way that Catholics are working to counter this is Venture Fidelis.
What is Venture Fidelis?
Simply put, Venture Fidelis is an identifiably Catholic US business structure that provide American business entities the opportunity to posses a purposed, distinct and legally expressed Catholic identity.
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