Tag Archives: finance

The Scarlet and the Black – Making Church-sense of Finance

First of its kind

“It’s not simply helping the Church with a program on church management, but it’s giving everybody a chance to deepen their faith and deepen their commitment to all the different missions of the Church,” said Hillen, 52, a member of Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter.

Hillen, a former public company CEO who is a professor in George Mason University’s School of Business, helped to develop a financial management program to teach basic management and financial skills to pastors, lay leaders, and religious who operate parishes and other Church-affiliated institutions.

The Program on Church Management, which is offered through the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, is in its first year, and has students — priests, bishops, deacons, religious, and lay people — from North America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia.

“It really is an effort for the universal church,” Hillen said.

Guarding against scandal

The Program on Church Management, Hillen said, is an initiative that was founded in response to a directive launched two years ago by Pope Francis, who said that Church leaders at every level should be educated in basic management and financial skills so as to help guard against financial scandal or the mismanagement of the Church’s assets.

“The Church has to be exemplary in the way she uses material means, both in an ethical and spiritual way, but also in an economic way,” said Monsignor Martin Schlag, the director of the Program on Church Management who splits his time between Rome and Minnesota, where he also serves as a business professor at the University of St. Thomas.

Monsignor Schlag said Christians, especially pastors and those trusted with running ministries and other Church agencies, have to give testimony to the Gospel in the way they deal with money, otherwise they would be denying what the Church teaches.

“How can we teach business ethics or the teachings of the Church if we as a Church don’t abide by its teachings?” Monsignor Schlag said.

The program took shape as conversations deepened between representatives from the Vatican Curia, led by Cardinal George Pell, the Australian prelate who led the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, and an international advisory council of Catholic business leaders, led by Hillen.

Blending business, social teaching, ethics

What emerged was a one-year program where students would not only learn basic accounting and management skills, but also study the Church’s social teaching, as well as business ethics, leadership, asset management, negotiating, and real estate management, among other topics.

“This is a special program in management. It’s not meant to be like a business degree,” said Hillen, who added that it was originally thought the program would be for two years until it was decided that Church leaders did not need that extensive a program.

“So basically, the first piece of advice from what became the International Business Leaders Advisory Council, of which I’m the chairman, was to make the program shorter, crisper, and more relevant to the management and financial challenges that these priests and nuns are likely to face,” said Hillen, who co-authored a new book on business leadership entitled, What Happens Now?: Reinvent Yourself as a Leader Before Your Business Outruns You.

The Program on Church Management is split between four intensive full-time weeks over the course of the year, with periods in between in which students attend classes one afternoon a week and on Saturday mornings.

“We have classes in negotiation, classes in leadership, classes in basic management, with a specialized class in management in ecclesial organizations,” Hillen said. “We have classes in basic finance, asset management, budgeting, financial reporting, financial controls, people management, governance, project management, real estate management.

Competent fiscal and faith shepherds

“It’s a basic competency in these areas,” Hillen added. “Why? Because the Church owes it to the faithful to competently manage the temporal resources under its custodianship.”

The faithful have a right to expect transparency and accountability from their leaders, especially when it comes to financial management, said Monsignor Schlag, who also teaches a course in the program.

“We teach management, economics, and finance, so the participants get the basics of knowledge so that they can understand what lay people are telling them, that they can control what’s being done, and they know what they have to delegate,” Monsignor Schlag said.

“The priests and religious also get a better feeling for the way the economy works and for giving spiritual guidance for people who work in business,” Monsignor Schlag said.

Hillen added that the program — which has a number of co-sponsoring organizations that include the University of St. Thomas, the Catholic University of America, and the Leadership Roundtable — also offered a good opportunity for he and other legates in the United States to offer their expertise and skills in service to the broader Church.

“It’s like a perfect fit for the interests of the Legatus members who are generally business leaders and love their Church,” said Hillen, who also serves on his parish’s finance council in Virginia.

Said Hillen, “It’s kind of funny to bounce between a little parish finance council and then to serve on a finance council for the whole Vatican.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

For God and Profit

Samuel Gregg
Crossroads Publishing, 2016
300 pages, hardcover $29.95

Christianity has always had a difficult relationship with the world of money. Through developing sophisticated understandings of the wealth-creating capacity of capital, Christian theologians, philosophers and financiers exerted influence upon the development of the international financial systems that revolutionized the way the world uses capital.

Subtitled How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good, this book underscores the different ways in which Christians have helped to develop the financial systems that have helped millions escape poverty. Gregg illustrates how Christian faith and reason can shape financial practices and banking institutions in ways that restore integrity to our troubled financial systems.

OrderAmazon, Crossroads Publishing

Apostles in business and finance

Archbishop Jose Gomez congratulates Legatus on 25 years of forming Catholic CEOs . . .

Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez

My congratulations to Tom Monaghan and to all the Legatus members! By God’s grace, you have accomplished so much in these last 25 years.

To me, your most important achievement has been spreading the truth that business ownership and leadership are ways of Christian discipleship and witness in our society. Legatus understood from the start that business is a true Christian “vocation.” It is a noble calling to participate in God’s own work — using the resources and talents he provides, guided by Gospel values and ethical principles.

All of you know that business is about more than the bottom line. Through the products you develop and the services you deliver, your businesses can contribute to the common good and to building God’s kingdom on earth. Through your innovations you can promote human dignity — making people’s lives healthier, easier and more enjoyable. You can help bring prosperity — not only to your employees and investors, but also to the wider society.

As we look to the future, Legatus’ mission is more important than ever. These last 25 years have seen the “globalization” of our economy and the growing influence of the financial sector, spurred by communications technologies like the Internet. We are more aware every day that what we produce and how we work, what we earn and our lifestyles and standards of living, are tied to technologies and other forces we can’t always control.

And as we know, this new century has already been marked by international financial crises and economic turmoil with farreaching implications. That’s one reason we’re seeing great debates across our country over issues such as unemployment, economic growth, government regulation, social welfare programs, education, taxes, unions and public debt.

These debates raise deep questions: What is the purpose of society? What role should private businesses play? What responsibility do individuals have, and what place is there for social institutions such as the family and churches? What is government for, and how should our economy work? These debates will shape our country’s future. And Legatus members must be out front and leading, helping to frame the issues and craft solutions that serve justice and the common good.

In this new century, as business and finance exert more and more influence in our society, Legatus will need to assume greater responsibilities for the new evangelization. I urge all of you to make a new commitment to being apostles and missionaries. Always try to find new ways to share your Catholic faith and the Church’s teachings.

As you know, in the Catholic vision of society, business activity and economic life are meant to serve the needs of the human person and the common good. But as our Holy Father has pointed out, our economic and financial crises reflect an ethical crisis. Legatus could perform a big service if it would promote what the Pope calls a “people-centered” business ethics based on Catholic social doctrine.

Legatus has a responsibility to share what Blessed John Paul II used to call a “unity of life.” That’s the missing dimension in a lot of today’s business and finance culture. Recent scandals reveal that many people are leading a fragmented or “dual life.” They seem to have set up a kind of psychological “firewall” that isolates their professional lives from any sense of moral obligation.

When this happens it becomes much easier for people to pursue their own selfish interests without regard to the costs to society and people. It becomes easier to treat employees badly, to behave recklessly with natural resources, to seek only to maximize profits or try to make as much money as possible. As Legatus members, you can show your colleagues that God doesn’t intend for us to lead this “dual life.” You can show them that our jobs and daily activities can never be divorced from our moral responsibilities before God and our ethical duty to society.

Legatus has a beautiful truth you are called to share — that our work is something we are called to sanctify, to make holy. That what we create and sell, and everything we do should be a service of love that we offer to God and our neighbors.

You have accomplished much in Legatus during these past 25 years. And there is much more for you to do in this new century!

I ask Our Blessed Mother to watch over you and your families. May she help you in your vocation to be the creators of a new business culture in which concern for profit and productivity is joined to a deep desire to renew our society through the Gospel of her Son and the teachings of his Catholic Church.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez is the archbishop of Los Angeles and Legatus’ second ecclesiastical advisor.