Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last month, you know that a new pope was selected. As a business school at a Catholic University, we wondered how Pope Francis’ challenges as head of the Catholic Church relate to the challenges of any new CEO. “One of the things the new pope will have to deal with is a classic business mess — a multi-billion dollar conglomerate that has stumbled and is losing money and relevance,” noted Planet Money. We asked some of our faculty to weigh in and got some surprising answers, and discovered that UST has a direct influence on what the Church says about the “Vocation of the Business Leader.”
Professor Robert G. Kennedy from the Ethics and Business Law Department noted that while people are still trying to figure out the pope’s new priorities, he is not the CEO of the church, and the Vatican is not the headquarters of a global corporation.
“The pope is leader of the college of bishops,” said Kennedy. “And the church is more like a confederation of thousands of local organizations.” There are thousands of bishops around the world who make decisions about their individual dioceses, without running everything through the Vatican.
Kennedy noted that UST professor Michael Naughton, Moss Chair in Catholic Social Thought and director of the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought was the principal editor of a document, entitled Vocation of the Business Leader, issued last March by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Several other Opus College of Business faculty were on the drafting committee.
This publication forms the base of the church’s opinion about business. “In this document, the church, drawing from its rich social tradition, all but declared that ‘God loves businesses’ and offered concrete ways to bridge principle and practice,” explained Naughton in America Magazine.