Foundational Concepts for Catholic Economic Life
The Church gives shape to the relationship between its larger mission and economic life through five primary concepts and their definitions. It is clear that these five concepts speak to values shared by individuals of conscience the world over. Integrating these concepts into investment decisions is central to the broader role and definition of a Catholic approach to fiduciary duty.
- Common Good
- The sum total of social conditions that allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily. Societies serve their members through a commitment to the common good, and the common good can only be attained through the collective effort of all.
- The Purpose of Material Goods
- Human beings need material goods to survive, grow, communicate and participate in community life. Owners of capital must use their resources not only to enrich themselves, but also to serve the common good. Businesses should be organized around the principle of creating benefits for society at large.
- The Participation in Society
- Individuals promote the common good through participation in the social, political, economic and cultural life of the community to which they belong.
- Dignity of Work
- Work serves a dual purpose: to create products and services of value; to provide workers with the opportunity to achieve their human potential through creative labor. Business leaders must take into account not only the profit motive, but also the well-being of employees.
- Human beings are inherently social and interdependent on others. Each of us is indebted to society as a whole for our ability to seek our own potential. Nothing we achieve is possible without the knowledge, cultural legacy and material possessions that humanity has produced. This principle commits each person to work for the common good and to serve, rather than exploit, other people.