Catholic Social Teaching as a framework for new business structures

Four scholars of the Catholic social teaching (CST) - Dariusz Dańkowski SJ, Jesuit University Ignatianum, Kraków (Poland); Stanislav Košč, Catholic University in Ružomberok (Slovakia) & Jesuit University Ignatianum, Kraków (Poland); Andrzej Sarnacki SJ, Jesuit University Ignatianum, Kraków (Poland); Robert Wawer SJ, Collegium Bobolanum - Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw (Poland) - prepared the 20-pages expert opinion: Catholic Social Teaching as a framework for new business structures. This report was further discussed within the first group of the cluster “Economy, Poverty, Ethics” and distributed to all members of the cluster.

The paper starts with the introduction to the basic principles of social life (the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, human dignity), the basic framework of social justice, intrinsic link between economic issues and ecological ones; this part of the elaboration refers mostly to the encyclical letters. Next, the authors present some pastoral guidelines of the General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, especially those which call for a new culture of dialogue and reconciliation (reconciliation with God, with one another, and with creation) and for intersectoral cooperation. Another section of the report presents the foundations of the Jesuit way of leadership (spirituality, innovation, holistic education). All of them can help us to redefine the notion of “success” and “failure” in business and influence a corporative culture. Ignatian spirituality stresses such values as deepest convictions, desires and knowledge. The final part of the report is focused on the practical problems which occurred in the economic crisis of 2008: state intervention (crisis of trust to the economic system) and corporate culture (problems of social responsibility in business).

The authors conclude: CST gives solid ethical foundations for the framework of business, even though CST does not pretend to be a sort of “matrix” of just business. Firstly, CST offers the catalogue of universal, cross-cultural principles and notions: dignity, solidarity, common good, social justice, cooperation, fraternity. They overlap with most of the theories of contemporary business ethics and CSR, and they are already present in a wide academic and public debate. Secondly, CST offers a set of pastoral guidelines for practical problems; their status is debated among the scholars and it is debated within our cluster (e.g. to what extend the principle of gratuitousness is a moral obligation and when it is a supererogatory action). Finally, CST offers religious inspiration for ethical standards in business and offers deeper insights for those who identify with the Gospel values. The message of the CST might be an object of various pastoral programmes, parish retreats, etc. Religious formation can influence corporative culture and indirectly can shape a larger consumers’ and producers’ culture. Ethical business requires real people formatted by deep moral values. Therefore, they will be able to secure the framework for moral business, and prepare solid codes of conducts. They can be good leaders, make right decisions and be a real inspiration in the age of crisis.

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