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Business leaders ‘part of the solution’ to the current woes

Domingo Sugranyes Bickel, president of the Vatican-based Centesimus Annus Pro Pontefice Foundation, says problems such as the ones Europe faces always have an ethical dimension. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Domingo Sugranyes Bickel, president of the Vatican-based Centesimus Annus Pro Pontefice Foundation, says problems such as the ones Europe faces always have an ethical dimension. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Business leaders may be part of the problem economies and societies are currently facing, but they are also part of the solution, according to Domingo Sugranyes Bickel.

Dr Sugranyes of Spain, a former vice-chairman of insurance group Mapfre, is president of the Vatican-based Centesimus Annus Pro Pontefice Foundation, which held its board meeting in Malta last week.

The 500-member foundation, which has an active Malta Chapter, promotes the social teachings of the Church and of the activity of the Holy See among socially-motivated professional leaders around the world. Two encyclicals, Centesimus Annus – to which the foundation owes its birth – and Caritas in Veritate, serve to inspire the foundation’s members.

It is preparing for its next annual international gathering in Rome from May 23 to 25 themed ‘Solidarity and Employment’. Participants will have an audience with the Holy Father on May 25. All the event’s proceedings will be published.

“Our discussions will involve people from academia and moral theology and business,” Dr Sugranyes told The Times Business. “Something is wrong if 50 per cent of young people cannot find work. What can be done to improve the situation? Members will discuss education, the business cycle – which is especially negative right now – ideas adopted by businesses to include more people in economic activity. The problem goes beyond businesses – it is a social problem. Business leaders are part of the problem but also part of the solution.”

Among the foundation’s board members is economist Joseph F.X. Zahra. Established in 1993, the foundation’s other vocation is raising funds for the Holy Father’s charities.

“Malta is a place where many people in business are also active in the Church so it is an ideal place for the foundation to do its work and to inspire them to think about and analyse Catholic social teaching,” Dr Sugranyes explained.

“Internationally, the foundation uses conferences, publications and courses, besides online channels, to communicate its message. Among its courses is one organised in collaboration with the Pontifical University of the Lateran in Rome for professionals who are in the early stages of their leadership careers, another for priests, and e-learning programmes designed to provide food for thought. We are not a lobby but a place for a discussion on how to do things better.”

Dr Sugranyes pointed out how another consultation was under way within the Foundation focused on the debt crisis and financial reform. People involved in finding solutions to the complex eurozone crisis had little time to think about philosophy and ethics. Problems, however, always had an ethical dimension. Philosophers and theologians, on the other hand, were not familiar with all the details and avoided becoming involved. Ways had to be found to bring the two camps together.

He emphasised how the founders of the European Union were all influenced by their Christian beliefs. That did not mean that it should be a Christian society, but that its origins should not be denied.

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