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Clavis Aurea

Catholic Social Teaching

The Catholic Church’s Best Kept Secret. Catholic social teaching is a central and essential element of our faith. Its roots are in the Hebrew prophets who announced God’s special love for the poor and called God’s people to a covenant of love and justice.  Its foundations are widely considered to have been laid by Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical letter Rerum Novarum.

Dignity of the Human Person
All humans are of a divine character. All that exists in creation is to promote that dignity, which was given to each of us by God.  So your focus must shift from solely shareholder return to whatever enhances the dignity of all the people your firm deals with: employees, customers, suppliers, others in the community, and of course shareholders. If we do this, shareholder return will increase as well.

Common Good
The social conditions which allow all people to reach their fulfillment more fully and easily. The common good can also be described as the fabric of society that provides the environment and “raw material” that provides the possibility for all people to achieve their potential. It understands that the human person as a person-in-community and moderates the exercise of individual freedom by appealing to the well-being of others. Favoritism, cronyism, and nepotism that may exist within your organization ultimately undermines the common good because they give undue advantage to someone who does not necessarily merit it. It undercuts organizational transparency effectively creating two realities in the same organization; one for the insiders and one for everyone else, it destroys trust, employee morale and motivation and creates “shallow roots” or complacency of those in the protected class.

Subsidiarity
Allows co-creation by addressing issues at the most local level. As business leaders we need to create a work environment where employees are encouraged to flourish using their skills, training and intellect.

It is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative. Said the other way, you uphold the dignity of the human person by giving your employees the responsibility and authority to make decisions and act to get things done. Here’s a good maxim to lead by: “Hire who you trust, and trust who you hire.”

It’s bad business these days to have a such a top-down command-and-control management style, where even the simplest organizational changes require approval from the top. It’s also contrary to the principle of subsidiarity, which requires us to adopt a system that pushes decision-making as low in the organization as possible, assuming the competence, training and appropriate discussion takes place to make the decision. Subsidiarity is not just a principle of Catholic Social Doctrine. It’s a best practice of healthy businesses!

Solidarity
Take care of our neighbor, as Christ reminds us often, is everyone. In business they are better defined as: employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, and the communities where the business operates. As business leaders, we should know that our organizations function best when there is a common goal. A unity of employees (working in solidarity) happens when they clearly understand the mission, the annual strategy / plan, and the tactics and are working together to meet them.

Solidarity demands that we business leaders push ourselves further. We are to make conscientious efforts to improve the conditions (i.e. the dignity) of everyone our business interacts with; employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, and the communities where we operate. We should care which of our employees who are suffering and ask ourselves and them – How can we help?   How can we implement “take care of our neighbor” in our business?

Vocation
A calling or destiny we have in this life and hereafter. Christ calls the faithful to the perfection of holiness. The vocation of the laity consists in seeking the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal (worldly, secular) affairs and directing them according to God’s will.