IMAGINARY LETTER OF A POPE TO ENTREPRENEURS

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi

Dear and beloved entrepreneurs, we think that a commercial enterprise is a common value and needs to be managed and sustained as such. We understand that the economic crisis in progress has hampered or even prevented the development needed to create employment and wealth. We also understand that often, following the consumerist rules imposed to compensate for the collapse of births with the growth of individual consumption, you have agreed to produce superfluous goods, often indebting too much, often seeking a profit in the short time.

But we do not believe that the commercial enterprise is responsible for the crisis, and now it has to bear the burdens. So, in this difficult time, we want to encourage you and we want to show appreciation for your role, we want to rehabilitate the dignity and morality of the entrepreneur so that you do not desist, do not be discouraged and do not escape your business vocation for the common good. We believe that the value of entrepreneurship is today more than worthwhile, it is heroic. We know very well that only through the private enterprise real wealth can be created, essential to being truly distributed. But the enterprise is a means to which must be given an end, a sense, so that this wealth is created well and serves man, to his integral well-being, and it is possible to distribute it, according to economic laws, for the common good of all.

If this did not happen and the economic instrument would become an end, as it is the case, it will create injustice and new poverty, blaming the business or the market, when they are only means, instruments that are neither ethical nor non ethical, man being the one who uses them to make them in the way they are. Therefore, paraphrasing what Benedict XVI wrote in Caritas in Veritate, it is not the enterprise that needs to be reformed, but it is the heart of the entrepreneur. And in order to do this you need to understand the Truth. And that is our task, the task of the Church, which must succeed with a clear magisterium that conforms to doctrine, with the sacraments which are the mystery of our Lord, with prayer to God the Father.

Dear friends entrepreneurs, I know that the economic crisis has been the result of a crisis of moral values, and this is a bit of our responsibility when we have reduced the teaching of doctrine, when we have adapted the sacraments to the time, when we did not insist on the value of prayer. Yes, our children, this lack of ours has allowed gnosis to advance and win, denying natural laws, rather overwhelming them thanks to the inhumane environmentalist neo-malthusianism and thanks to economic decrease. Never, ever, should we have an exaggerated understanding of the discouragement of human life and the family. We should never have been allowed to create the conditions for taking moral autonomy from the economic, scientific tools that even came to prevail over the growth of wisdom of man and make him think he could handle sophisticated instruments without having the maturity to succeed. We should never have allowed, as a moral authority, the failures of Catholic civilization and consequently of Catholic morality.

Let us now see, dear entrepreneurs, what recommendations your Pope gives you: first of all we are close to you for the difficulties you are experiencing and for the enormous responsibilities you have on you. Courage therefore! We would also like to make you aware of the problem of youth unemployment. We do not want to make generic and unrealistic calls, which may suggest uneconomical or anti-business proposals. You know, better than me, that employment is safeguarded by developing and strengthening the business competitively. This with values of personal responsibility and merit, not of assistance and protection. But, will you ask me, what is the suggestion? It is the following, which you will find in the conclusion of the encyclical Caritas in Veritate: “God’s love calls us to move beyond the limited and the ephemeral, it gives us the courage to continue seeking and working for the benefit of all. Development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer.”

I understand your perplexity, but it is a shepherd who speaks to you, not a president of Confindustria. But it is a shepherd who does not want to console you, but would like to be able to infect you with our closeness and prayer. I would also like to surprise you now.

You entrepreneurs are always looking for winning strategies, well, I would therefore like to propose you to consider a new one, ignored by many: grace. The addend that makes every future unpredictable and surprising. I invite you to think (of course, without ceasing to act) that trusting God, together with a well done job, can become an advantage, as well as worry about the spiritual and family life of your employees. Have you ever thought that this attention can generate more productivity, less costs, less risks? I would like to try to explain to you, dear entrepreneurs, that courageously testify your Christian identity in entrepreneurship produces real and sustainable added value. A Christian entrepreneur in fact considers the commercial enterprise a means and considers the famous profit an indispensable tool for measuring the “performance” of the company, as well as the necessary result to make it grow and affirm, but also, and certainly, the fair remuneration of those who have invested and risked in it. Granted, for sure, that I do not have to convince you that business and profit are tools, I would just like to draw attention to the value that I would like you to have for the outcome that these tools should reach in order to be effective: that it is the human dignity of your employees, suppliers, customers, investors, and others, it is this precisely that provokes the value of your business and of your vocation as entrepreneurs.

This value is called trust. Precisely what is missing in our world, becoming the real scarce resource. But this scarce resource is not a raw material that’s hard to find and expensive, it is not money or loan that’s difficult to obtain: it is in you, you possess the scarcest resource in nature. Find it and turn it into a competitive advantage then, and start creating value, development and wealth! Imagine a strategy of developing your business centered (and consistently realized) on the “trust” advantage, not as a false expression of “ethical” marketing that you know does not exist, because an instrument cannot, in itself, be ethical. Make it so that the world comes to need again your skills enhanced by the “trust” resource. You have well understood that the current economic models that seem to be winning are not really sustainable (too low costs, too high technologies …), and they are not because they ignore natural laws and man’s dignity does not value it, considering it a means of production, of consumption, of investment, but always a tool.

I urge you dear children, give an example to the world of how a business is governed by Christian models of loyalty, transparency, security, quality, innovative capacity, sense of responsibility, etc. They will come to you to work, to buy your products, to be able to provide them, to finance them, to invest in you … You see dear entrepreneurs, the good of man, thanks to the enterprise. It is not good because God wants it, God wants it because it is good for man. It is the reason, believe me, which explains what good is. In addition to this encouragement, you also receive my blessing.

This piece is a preface to the book by Father Robert A Sirico La vocazione dell’imprenditore published by Fede e Cultura. The preface was also published on October 8 2016 in the newspaper La Verità. 2017©AP. Used with permission.

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