As Catholics, we believe in the power of truth to make old things new. That’s exactly what’s happening at The Catholic University of America.
Last weekend, the university officially dedicated the new home of the Busch School of Business, Maloney Hall. Originally constructed in 1917, it is a beautiful stone building that has long been a mainstay in the university’s life and work in Washington, D.C. Now, it will serve as the hub for several hundred students a year, as they learn to be entrepreneurs and business leaders inspired by the Catholic faith.
This building is centered around a brand-new chapel, and, in a very real sense, so is the entire business school. We don’t believe that business presents a choice between capitalism and socialism, or between right and left. Instead, we enable our students to ground their business decisions in Catholic Social Doctrine, which transcends partisan distinctions and holds the potential to transform our economy in extraordinary ways.
Put another way, we seek to breathe new life into a tired understanding of business. We believe that business can be a force for good.
The principles of Catholic Social Doctrine, developed carefully over more than a century, define the education that our students receive. For instance: They invite students to uphold both the principle of “solidarity,” which is our responsibility to care for others, and “subsidiarity,” the idea that decisions should be made by those closest to the point of impact.
Our students also wrestle with the principle of private property and the universal destination of goods. The first teaches that human beings have the right to manage their own property. The second says to use that property for the good of others.
And students discover the interrelationship between markets and virtue. Often framed as contradictory, markets and virtue are complementary – and in fact, they each need the other. The market economy provides the economic freedom where virtuous citizens can prosper and lift each other out of poverty. Similarly, virtues like trustworthiness, hard work, honesty, and courage, all of which are first cultivated in non-market institutions like the family, churches, and educational institutions — are essential for the existence of the market economy.
In each of these areas, our students learn to go beyond the tyranny of “either/or” to find a better path of “both/and.” Therein lies the genius of Catholic Social Doctrine and its power to revolutionize the practice of business in America today.
The Napa Institute Summer Conference brings together some of the world’s most prominent Catholic and Christian thinkers each year to engage, encourage, and inspire the over 700 participants who gather from every corner of the country and around the world. This conference provides unique opportunities to build community, share ideas, and grow in friendship with some of the most effective Catholics leaders in the country.