Archibishop Charles Chaput of Denver spoke to prominent Catholic businessmen on the relationship of the Christian with money at the Conference “Christian values and Financial Success” that convoked some 20 Latino Business leaders and Bishops at the St. Malo Retreat and Conference Center near Denver, Colorado, August 20-22..-
Tonight is the “start of something important and new for us… and will grow “to touch many others in the future,” said Archbishop Chaput at the opening of the conference.
“People sometimes misread Scripture as teaching that money is the root of all evil. But that's not what Scripture says,” he continued. “The Bible says, "the love of money is the root of all evils" because “through this craving [some] have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs” (1 Tim 6:10).
The Archbishop said that it is important to think about the relationship we have with money. “We can love people. We can’t love things…St Luke reminds us that even when we’re rich, our life does not consist of possessions (Lk 12:15). When we treat things with the love that we owe to people, people suffer.”
“Americans have a talent for making money. We’re very good at it. That’s a big force for good in the world. The skill of making and managing wealth has some of the same beauty as a great work of art,” he continued.
“But this is also true,” Archbishop Chaput pointed out, “as many people are poor and hurting today as at any time in history. A consistent lesson of history is that too many of the rich forget too many of the poor. Power -- and that includes economic power, and even our own financial success – can become a kind of illness.”
By confusing freedom with possessions we will forget the “real meaning of freedom” which is not about “accumulating and consuming things,” he said, “It’s about creating, and sharing the joy of creating, with others…We can't be free until we live, in some sense, for others. Freedom is not self-indulgence. It's self-mastery and self-sacrifice to achieve goals that matter, and accomplishments that last.”
“The dignity of the human person, together with a commitment to the common good, is at the heart of Catholic social teaching,” said Archbishop Chaput, pointing out why it is so important to make sure that faith is not pushed out of public life.
“People sometimes ask me, where does God belong in the marketplace? He belongs in the hearts and the actions of the people who make the marketplace succeed…The vocation of a financial leader is to light the community with the habits of generosity and integrity. All of us preach by the way we live, and by the way we work,” he said.
In concluding his speech, Archbishop Chaput spoke of the role of Hispanics in the future of America. “Denver is 31 percent Hispanic. Colorado is now 17 percent Hispanic. That’s a 73 percent growth in our Hispanic population in one decade. All of America is changing, and Latinos will shape the nature of that change.”
But the change can be more far reaching than simply a matter of increasing numbers, suggested the Archbishop: “Hispanics can bring to the table a Catholic sense of family, a Catholic sense of community, a Catholic love for life, generosity and a respect for the dignity of the person.”
Keep these things at the center of your heart,” he exhorted, “American life has lost its soul. You can change that. America needs to change. Be different. Remember who you are. Remember the faith and Catholic understanding of the world that shaped you. Make your success a success of the soul -- a success for the common good -- and you’ll leave the world a better place than when you entered it.”