In 1993 and 1994, when the participants of the Caux Round Table came together to think through and then write up the first set of ethical principles for business proposed by business executives on their own, two paradigms were on the table in dialogue – kyosei from Japan, proposed by Ryuzaburo Kaku of Cannon and the Centesimus Annus encyclical of Pope John Paul II, proposed by Jean Loup Dherse of France.
The discussion exposed fundamental harmonies and symmetries between the two paradigms. The resulting principles integrated perspectives of both approaches to responsible leadership in business and finance. The vision of Centesimus Annus today provides solid and generative support directing us how to best implement all of our talk about “ESG” and “sustainability.”
Raised as a Protestant, I was ignorant of the Catholic contribution of wise encyclicals on social conditions. At the suggestion of Jean Loup, I read first Centesimus Annus and then Laborem Exercens. I was most impressed and found myself with a deeper understanding of how to think about ideals and values in our daily lives and work.
Later, mostly by coincidence, I was asked to join the advisory board of the Papal foundation established by Pope John Paul II to advocate the insights and ideals of his encyclical in business and financial settings and organizations – the Fondazione Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice. Lord Daniel Brennan, now our chairman emeritus, is another member of that board. We were together these past few days in Rome for the annual meeting of the foundation.
I found in the discussion that the relevance of concepts such as “solidarity” are more relevant to our conditions than ever before after the pandemic. That sense for our necessary connection with others 1) facilitates our ability to collaborate and create social capital and 2) justifies our acceptance of personal responsibility and a proper turning away from narcissism of mind and spirit.
On Saturday, in audience with Pope Francis, we heard him speak to us most reasonably on how the social teachings of his church could make a difference for the better in our lives.
You may read his remarks here.