Corporate leaders are working to find common ground with the Roman Catholic Church when it comes to ethics and global business. A recent conference in Rome brought together the Pope, Vatican leaders, and global business executives. The purpose was to improve the relations between the two groups after some of Pope Francis’ negative comments on finance and capitalism.
Francis X. Rocca recently wrote about the meeting for the Wall Street Journal:
At the two-day meeting organized by the Global Foundation, an Australian nonprofit that promotes dialogue among the business community, government and other civil society institutions, participants discussed issues such as how to foster broader job opportunities for young people and women and how to eradicate modern slavery.
The conference was headlined by Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s finance chief. Cardinal Pell is one of the few Vatican officials espousing pro-business sympathies that stand in contrast to those of Pope Francis, who has derided money as the “dung of the devil” and frequently excoriated the free-market system.
“Market economics have brought unprecedented prosperity and represent, despite their many faults and deficiencies, an extraordinary human achievement,” Cardinal Pell told the 50-odd attendees, among them Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund; Dominic Barton, managing director of McKinsey & Co.; Mark Cutifani, CEO of Anglo American PLC; and Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal.
Rocca notes that while Pope John Paul II “gave qualified recognition of the virtues of entrepreneurship,” Pope Francis has “raised tensions between the Vatican and defenders of modern capitalism.” He quotes Istituto Acton’s Kishore Jayabalan:
The pope’s “concern for the rights of workers is completely in line with Catholic social teaching, but it comes sometimes at the expense of the entrepreneurial side,” said Kishore Jayabalan, a former Vatican staff member who now works for the Acton Institute, a free-market-oriented think tank. “He provides the rhetoric and moral high ground for enemies of capitalism, for those who would take us back to a feudal and backward-looking society.”