John L. Allen, Jr., at the National Catholic Reporter, took note of the address recently given by Cardinal Peter Turkson, just as Acton did. Allen’s blog post, which referenced Acton’s Samuel Gregg and his National Review Online piece, noted that the Cardinal posed some very specific and probing questions for business people who wish to integrate their spiritual life and work life:
- Am I creating wealth, or am I engaging in rent-seeking behavior? (That’s jargon for trying to get rich by manipulating the political and economic environment, for example by lobbying for tax breaks, rather than by actually creating something.)
- Is my company making every reasonable effort to take responsibility for unintended consequences [such as] environmental damage or other negative effects on suppliers, local communities and even competitors?
- Do I provide working conditions which allow my employees appropriate autonomy at each level?
- Am I making sure that the company provides safe working conditions, living wages, training, and the opportunity for employees to organize themselves?
- Do I follow the same standard of morality in all geographic locations?
- Am I seeking ways to deliver fair returns to providers of capital, fair wages to employees, fair prices to customers and suppliers, and fair taxes to local communities?
- Does my company honor its fiduciary obligations … with regular and truthful financial reporting?
- When economic conditions demand layoffs, is my company giving adequate notifications, employee transition assistance, and severance pay?
Allen points that this document will be concretely useful: retreats for business people, a foundational document for business education, etc. He says, ‘… it manages to bring Catholic social teaching down to earth without actually floating a single concrete policy proposal. Instead, it asks hard questions and trusts people of intelligence and good will to figure out the right answers.’