My congratulations to Tom Monaghan and to all the Legatus members! By God’s grace, you have accomplished so much in these last 25 years.
To me, your most important achievement has been spreading the truth that business ownership and leadership are ways of Christian discipleship and witness in our society. Legatus understood from the start that business is a true Christian “vocation.” It is a noble calling to participate in God’s own work — using the resources and talents he provides, guided by Gospel values and ethical principles.
All of you know that business is about more than the bottom line. Through the products you develop and the services you deliver, your businesses can contribute to the common good and to building God’s kingdom on earth. Through your innovations you can promote human dignity — making people’s lives healthier, easier and more enjoyable. You can help bring prosperity — not only to your employees and investors, but also to the wider society.
As we look to the future, Legatus’ mission is more important than ever. These last 25 years have seen the “globalization” of our economy and the growing influence of the financial sector, spurred by communications technologies like the Internet. We are more aware every day that what we produce and how we work, what we earn and our lifestyles and standards of living, are tied to technologies and other forces we can’t always control.
And as we know, this new century has already been marked by international financial crises and economic turmoil with farreaching implications. That’s one reason we’re seeing great debates across our country over issues such as unemployment, economic growth, government regulation, social welfare programs, education, taxes, unions and public debt.
These debates raise deep questions: What is the purpose of society? What role should private businesses play? What responsibility do individuals have, and what place is there for social institutions such as the family and churches? What is government for, and how should our economy work? These debates will shape our country’s future. And Legatus members must be out front and leading, helping to frame the issues and craft solutions that serve justice and the common good.
In this new century, as business and finance exert more and more influence in our society, Legatus will need to assume greater responsibilities for the new evangelization. I urge all of you to make a new commitment to being apostles and missionaries. Always try to find new ways to share your Catholic faith and the Church’s teachings.
As you know, in the Catholic vision of society, business activity and economic life are meant to serve the needs of the human person and the common good. But as our Holy Father has pointed out, our economic and financial crises reflect an ethical crisis. Legatus could perform a big service if it would promote what the Pope calls a “people-centered” business ethics based on Catholic social doctrine.
Legatus has a responsibility to share what Blessed John Paul II used to call a “unity of life.” That’s the missing dimension in a lot of today’s business and finance culture. Recent scandals reveal that many people are leading a fragmented or “dual life.” They seem to have set up a kind of psychological “firewall” that isolates their professional lives from any sense of moral obligation.
When this happens it becomes much easier for people to pursue their own selfish interests without regard to the costs to society and people. It becomes easier to treat employees badly, to behave recklessly with natural resources, to seek only to maximize profits or try to make as much money as possible. As Legatus members, you can show your colleagues that God doesn’t intend for us to lead this “dual life.” You can show them that our jobs and daily activities can never be divorced from our moral responsibilities before God and our ethical duty to society.
Legatus has a beautiful truth you are called to share — that our work is something we are called to sanctify, to make holy. That what we create and sell, and everything we do should be a service of love that we offer to God and our neighbors.
You have accomplished much in Legatus during these past 25 years. And there is much more for you to do in this new century!
I ask Our Blessed Mother to watch over you and your families. May she help you in your vocation to be the creators of a new business culture in which concern for profit and productivity is joined to a deep desire to renew our society through the Gospel of her Son and the teachings of his Catholic Church.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez is the archbishop of Los Angeles and Legatus’ second ecclesiastical advisor.