We hear constantly that there is tension between faith and commercial society, and there is some truth to that. The best way to confront the topic is not through abstractions but solid examples of men and women of faith who are also deeply involved in business life.
In my travels, my ministry, and in my working with the Acton Institute, I've met many thousands of such cases, from small business owners to global currency traders in large firms. In their work, they are able to be faithful men and women of God and both promote and reflect virtue in the course of serving society.
They are the risk takers who open businesses without any assurance of a profit. That means that they must be attentive listeners, and be genuinely interested in the needs of others.
What drives them? It is commonly said that business people are mainly interested in profit, and it is certainly true that profits are better than losses. Who can deny it? But is that a bad thing? Profit permits the accumulation of capital, the hiring of more workers, the investment of more resources for greater return. That means that the primary point of profit is the efficient use of resources in the service of others.
However, in my experience, the primary motivation of the entrepreneurial class informed by faith is to make a difference in the world and achieve something wonderful. This is what we all want to do. Some have different vocations than others: Some are teachers; Some are physicians; Some are craftsmen. I'm a priest. These callings give meaning to our life and allow us to serve God. So too is entrepreneurship and commercial life a calling. It is a very high calling - and has been so regarded in the Christian world since the time when Jesus made so many of his lessons revolve around commercial activity.
Men and women of faith who work in commerce need to be understood through the lens of economic understanding and rational intelligence informed by faith. This has been a main goal of all our work at the Acton Institute, which, I'm happy to report, is thriving as never before, thanks to your support.
Rev. Robert Sirico, President