FARMINGTON – If a dynamic keynote speaker is any indication of future success, the just-launched Hartford chapter of the evangelizing group Legatus is off to a promising start.
Dr. Paul Voss, a Catholic father of five and professor of Renaissance literature at Georgia State University, held a roomful of executives and their spouses spellbound at the Country Club of Farmington April 30 with a lively talk and PowerPoint presentation on the relationship between faith and business. Calling himself “a Catholic free-marketer,” Dr. Voss defended capitalism, saying, “We have to remember that the free market is not free. It never has been free. The admission price to the amusement park of free-market economic activity is your individual integrity and honesty.”
He said there is almost nothing in the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the business world. Papal pronouncements have focused more on workers than on the businesses they work for, he said. But Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate (“In Charity and Truth”) states that because of global changes in how business is conducted, “there is ... increasing awareness of the need for greater social responsibility on the part of business” (paragraph 40).
In other words, Dr. Voss said, business is good if it is responsible and honest.
It’s the kind of message that was meant to resonate with the successful men and women who are founding and forming this local chapter of Legatus, an international organization of business and professional men and women dedicated to spreading the Catholic faith.
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, when he was Bishop of Toledo, helped that organization to grow in Michigan and Ohio and now wants to see it take hold here.
“This [organization] is directed toward business leaders and their spouses, and in my experience with them it has been very good to try to engage them in a way that they can bear witness to the faith in everyday life and exercise their responsibilities as business leaders,” Archbishop Blair told the Transcript before the Mass at the Church of St. Peter in Farmington that preceded the reception at the country club. “So in that sense I’m very happy to give it all the help and encouragement that I can.”
Legatus – Latin for “ambassador” – invites members to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20), according to its website, www.legatus.org. Membership is by invitation and is open to qualifying Catholic board chairs, presidents, CEO’s, owners, managing directors or partners, publishers and executive vice presidents of businesses and professions that meet certain personnel and value guidelines.
John Trecker, Northeast Region development officer, said one goal of the new chapter is to grow it to 20 member couples (spouses are welcomed as full members) so that it can be chartered and self-governing.
Robert and Karen Goldschmidt of Bloomfield are founding members of the new chapter. Mr. Goldschmidt was also a co-founder of the Manhattan chapter.