By DENNIS SADOWSKI, Catholic News Service | Published October 2, 2014
WASHINGTON (CNS)—Venture capitalist Frank Hanna believes that just because he’s a Catholic business owner, his faith and values don’t have to be checked at the office door.
If anything, Catholic virtue and a deep feeling of solidarity with colleagues, customers and poor people around the world guide his decision-making to, as Hanna puts it, help humanity flourish.
Hanna, CEO of Hanna Capital in Atlanta, told 75 participants at a Sept. 24-26 conference on the vocation of business at The Catholic University of America that moral values in business must be a priority for Catholic business owners and managers.
Wealth is not measured solely by dollars, but by how business owners conduct themselves in delivering goods and services and building solidarity—the Catholic principle of the being in unity with others—with people of all walks of life, Hanna said Sept. 25.
“He or she must not neglect the dollars, but must in the end conduct himself as if something else has priority,” Hanna explained. “This issue of being a Christian in the business world is not a constant Manichean choice between having money or being good. It’s rather a matter of priority.”
“Do we put first things first? The way to practice solidarity in business, such that human relationships are strengthened and human flourishing abounds, is to make such solidarity the higher priority. It’s not in place of profits, but it’s more important,” he said.
Afterward, Hanna told Catholic News Service that God and family are his highest priorities and that out of that sense of responsibility he has been able to guide a successful financial services firm.
“The Lord gave us an example in saying if you can fill people with the good news it’s the greatest gift you can give them,” Hanna said. “So that’s what we try to do.”
Co-sponsored by the California-based Napa Institute and The Catholic University of America’s School of Business and Economics, the three-day conference was titled “Liberty and Solidarity: Living the Vocation to Business.” Held at the university in Washington, it brought together current and retired business owners, Catholic university faculty and clergy and women religious to explore Catholic social teaching.
In an opening address, Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, welcomed the contributions of men and women in business as vital to improving people’s lives as long as they promote the common good.
He encouraged attendees to ground their work in prayer and the tenets of the Catholic faith in order to continue God’s creation.
The Vatican, he said, has come to see that life in business is itself a vocation.
“It simply means that one has a calling, a calling which comes from God our creator,” Cardinal Turkson explained.
“Business is in fact a vocation and a very local vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life,” he said, quoting Pope Francis’ message to the World Economic Forum in January in Davos, Switzerland. “Such men and women are able to serve more effectively the common good and to make the goods of this world more accessible to all. And so business then belongs to such human activity, and entrepreneurs should see themselves as called by God to exercise their necessarily important skills and activities to assist in continuing God’s work of creation.”