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Rafael Termes

From 1918
 to 2005

It is true that democracy is the best of the political systems, in that it guarantees, through universal suffrage, a peaceful changeover of power. But democracy and its instrument, majority rule, is not a method to investigate the truth. Truth can be acquired with evidence, conclusive demonstration, or another's trustworthy testimony; but it must not be subject to a vote. There may be laws hereof which, although passed democratically, are ... not laws, but corruptions of the law, because they are not inspired by right reason. Instead, they are inspired by the pure will of the majority. (Of Elections and Bishops)

As a scholar, a researcher, a businessman, and a professor, Rafael Termes had a tremendous influence on the economic thinking in Spain.

He was an integral developer of the IESE Business School in Spain since its founding in 1958, and served as director of its Madrid campus. Termes served on the board of Banco Poplular, and from 1977 to 1990, he led the Spanish Banking Association. He was also a member of the Royal Academy of Economic and Financial Sciences and the Royal Academy of Moral Sciences and Politics. Among the many awards Don Termes was awarded in his life are the Spanish government's Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor and the French government's Knight of the Legion of Honor.

Termes was among the first members of the prelature Opus Dei in Barcelona. Inspired by his Catholic faith, Termes published on a number of matters regarding the freedom and responsibilities of the human person, not only those regarding economics.

With regard to economics, Termes was a champion of free-market thinking. He proclaimed the “spirit of service inherent in capitalism” and explained how the free market encourages important virtues like “diligence, hard work, prudence in taking on reasonable risks, trustworthiness, loyalty in interpersonal relations, [and] resolution in making and carrying out difficult and painful decisions.”

In a time and place where free-market principles were not en vogue, Termes was a voice of prudence and faithfulness, always careful to balance economic efficiency with the ethical action:

For the market economy to work, agents in the capitalist system must, when choosing between alternatives, make decisions that are not based exclusively on immediate economic value. Above all, such decisions must also take into account the impact that alternatives will have on people (in terms of value), including both the decision-maker and others. If decisions are made in this manner, the market system, thanks to the effect of the invariant core of economic laws, will lead to the best possible results in economic and ethical terms. (Church History Annual, June 2002)