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What Kind of Relationships Lead to Prosperity?


Excerpts from a presentation given by Frank Hanna at the Conference, “Human Ecology: Integrating Business and 125 Years of Catholic Social Doctrine,” March 17, 2016

Prosperity is a state of flourishing, and we all know that human flourishing can only truly be flourishing if it’s indeed a spiritual flourishing, but even when we’re speaking about our own Catholic social teaching, I think there’s a constant temptation to get caught up in discussions and considerations of material prosperity.

Material prosperity is not the same thing as spiritual prosperity, and thus, material prosperity is not true human prosperity. By the way, if that’s true, and I believe it is, we need not look to the social teachings of the church and to various encyclicals as guides to producing material prosperity, but rather, as guides to cultivating our spiritual prosperity.

As a businessman, I can give you examples of how building virtuous relationships with various folks with whom I’ve done business have led to material prosperity, but the honest truth is, some of the more materially lucrative endeavors that I’ve had, they weren’t relationships of vice but I don’t know that I really thought of them as relationships characterized by great virtue. They were relationships of integrity and respect and honesty, and I know those things are virtuous, but my point is, the relationships themselves were mostly transactional and that kind of relationship, in fact, can produce material prosperity. But in a world, that for the last century, has become more materially prosperous, for almost everyone in the world, almost continually for a hundred years, with some exceptions for World Wars, I don’t think material prosperity is our biggest challenge. I think spiritual prosperity is. As compared to the gains that world has made in material prosperity, many in our society not only have not gained in spiritual prosperity, but instead, have lost it.

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