Business acumen: How one Swiss Guard found inspiration in late pope
Published: May 25, 2012
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Some might find the Vatican an unlikely teacher of business management, especially these days, given the ouster of the Vatican Bank's president for negligence and a leaked document scandal alleging corruption and incompetence in the Holy See. But according to one former Swiss Guard, the years he spent protecting Blessed John Paul II yielded life-changing lessons for a career in business. Andreas Widmer, a 6-foot-9-inch Swiss-born financier and entrepreneur based in Boston, said watching how the late pope lived his life showed him that business and faith can go together. Blessed John Paul emphasized "an integrated approach to life" in which earthly activities need not be divorced from spiritual enrichment, Widmer told Catholic News Service during a recent visit to the Vatican. "There is a latent dualism that says, 'Over here in the spiritual realm, I can do a little bit of tithing, maybe a little bit of corporate social responsibility and then over here it's dirty business," he said. Any dichotomy depicting the material world, especially business or work, as bad or below the divine "is not true; that's not an integrated Catholic approach to life," he said. In fact, superficial trends supporting "social entrepreneurship" and "corporate social responsibility" actually reinforce the harmful dualism by perpetuating the assumption that only the fruits of labor and profits -- not the business practice itself -- can improve people's lives, he said.
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