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Vatican document guides business decision-making

It’s more than just business … it’s about human dignity and the common good.

That was the message for several Catholic business people attending a Faith in Business Workshop sponsored this summer by the Catholic Professional and Business Club of Omaha.

Participants discussed ways to unify their faith and work lives through sound Catholic teaching and faith-based servant leadership principles.

For Ken Broz, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Gretna and a vice president at Sapp Brothers Petroleum, the session reinforced the ethics and integrity he said his company already professes.

"We need to be responsible to those around us and remember that we are not in business simply to make a profit," he said, "but we need to be good stewards and share those blessings."

"As an employer, we need to make sure that what we’re doing is conducive to the salvation of society."

Those concepts were key parts of the June 4 presentation in Omaha by Omar Gutierrez, manager of the archdiocese’s office of Missions and Justice.

He discussed the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace document titled "The Vocation of Business Leaders: A Reflection," along with other documents on Catholic social teaching.

The Vatican document "… encourages those in business to see their work as part of a vocation and a call to sanctity, and gives practical principles and tools for them to live their faith in their work," Gutierrez said. "Those in business have to avoid what the document calls a divided life. They cannot separate their faith life from their work life."

Matt Dunning, an attorney and member of St. James Parish in Omaha, said the session helped him maintain a focus on more than just financial success.

"I’m looking at, what am I doing without the expectation of getting something back?" he said. "I’m trying to apply that to both my spiritual life and my professional life.

"I try to put the gifts I’ve received to use for myself and my family, but also for the greater good, day-to-day looking at the bigger picture and trying to do what’s right in both the immediate- and long-term."

And even though businesses are involved in private enterprise, it is important that they also build up the overall community, Dunning said.

Being a Catholic business leader provides an opportunity to participate with God in creation and to contribute to society by providing products to advance the common good, Gutierrez said.

"Instead of viewing labor as simply a line item or an expense," he said, "business leaders must view workers as human beings who provide an opportunity to give and receive, bringing an attitude of openness and gratitude to the relationship."

Dunning and Broz echoed that sentiment.

"In business, there are obligations on employees, but it’s also the obligation of employers to provide a sustainable life for employees, not just utilize and exhaust personnel and other resources," Dunning said.

"We also can be a great example to our employees," Broz said. "Not everyone comes from the same place, not everyone has the same beliefs, but if they see you adhering to your beliefs, it may strike a chord with them."