The ethos today in politics and in the corporate world leans toward extreme caution and risk avoidance. Say nothing and write nothing, or else you could endanger your career! That is what many management experts recommend. If you have a paper trail, you can forget about being a CEO or a senator. The media will eat you alive. Or so we are told.
But then consider the life and work of Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Over the course of a brilliant career as a theologian, he has written dozens of books, spoken at innumerable conferences, and granted indepth interviews to many journalists.
What a paper trail!
Journalists are poring over these works to find words, phrases, and thoughts to highlight and distort with the usual “gotcha!” games that distinguish modern journalism.
It turns out, however, that Benedict XVI’s writings do not reinforce the caricature. They are serious, enlightened, nuanced, principled, courageous, and edifying in so many ways. This is true of all the areas in which he has written, but I'm thinking, in particular, of his writings on politics, economics, and human rights. Here we find a man heavily influenced by the same tradition that inspired Lord Acton.
Instead of catching him in error, what people are finding is that his writings extend an ideal of liberty and truth. Here is a man with a profound and deep faith in the theological and political meaning of freedom.
Benedict XVI’s style of management has something to teach us about how to conduct one's public life long before one reaches the highest positions of leadership. In contrast to contemporary management theory, there is something to be said for taking a risk by saying what is true and by exercising moral courage. By supporting the Acton Institute, you, too, are making a statement on behalf of these values.