Aug. 13, 2012

Professors Present Catholic Social Teaching in Ghana

Economics Professor Brian Engelland observes a conversation on ethical business practices in Ghana.

After participating in a successful Summer Institute of Catholic Social Thought at Catholic University in June, Associate Professor Rev. Paul Sullins and Professor Brian Engelland headed to Ghana in July to present a similar conference on conducting business ethically. The two led discussions focused on Catholic social teachings as they relate to business in a country where corruption is rampant and more than 60 percent of citizens live in poverty, according to Engelland. The one-week seminar included 130 Ghanaian Catholic business people and educators. Other notable speakers at the conference included Most Rev. Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, archbishop of Accra, Ghana, and Monsignor Jonathan Thomas Ankrah, president of the Catholic Institution of Business and Technology at the University of Ghana. The conference was sponsored by the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, with support from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and The Catholic University of America.Archbishop Palmer-Buckle addressed how education can help business and government leaders see that companies can be highly successful without engaging in unethical conduct. He had proposed the seminar for Catholic business leaders, as they comprise 16 percent of the population and participate in the highest levels of business and government. If Catholics can behave ethically, he proposed, then a groundswell of ethical practices can begin to transform the entire country. Lectures focused on finding ways to promote ethical business practices that would support the common good.

Rev. Paul Sullins overlooks a discussion on Catholic Social Teaching at a conference in Africa last month.

Father Sullins presented an introduction to Catholic social teaching, while many of Engelland's remarks were based on "The Vocation of the Business Leader," a document released in March by the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace. The document's principal author was Cardinal Peter Turkson, archbishop of Ghana and president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Father Sullins said that by the end of the week the participants were "so into discussing and applying what they were learning that, when we called breaks from discussion, everyone ignored it and kept right on discussing. It was exciting to be teaching such a vibrant and receptive group, who were just drinking it all in."

"Their response to what we presented gives me great confidence that Ghana will overcome corruption and begin to deliver the benefits of economic development to all levels in their society," says Engelland.

Engelland and Rev. Sullins have been invited back to continue the program next summer.

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