Photos by Veronica Farve/Xavier University of Louisiana
Mckenzi Neal Data News Weekly Contributor
Cardinal Peter Turkson serves the title of many firsts.
The first Ghanaian Cardinal, first African to lead in the Vatican, the first president of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in 2016 and the first Black Cardinal to advise Pope Francis and lead the Vatican’s efforts on social justice and equality.
As a high-ranking Black man in the Vatican, he is pioneering ways to support communities through the teachings of the Catholic faith. During a visit to New Orleans, he met with community members and students and faculty at both Xavier University of Louisiana and Loyola University, New Orleans, two Catholic universities in the city. He shared how business leadership is also a vocation.
“When we refer to it as a vocation, it just means it doesn’t derive only from ourselves, but we see how our activity or whatever we do also fits into God’s program,” Turkson said in an interview for The Catholic Herald.
The three-day event titled “The Catholic Business Leader: A New Orleans Symposium” was hosted by Xavier and Loyola universities allowed Turkson to lead panel discussions and services with business educators, business executives, and civil leaders. Turkson’s community engagements began on September 29th and ended with a vigil mass ceremony October 1st.
“This symposium is intended to initiate a much-needed dialogue amongst business leaders, educators, and clergy to instill the importance of integrating business practices and applications of the faith,” said Dr. Jose Bautista, a Professor of Business in the Division of Business at Xavier. “Business operations and the practice of one’s faith have been considered as mutually exclusive endeavors where there is little or no common ground,” Bautista said in a statement.
The Cardinal shared how business and vocation can co-exist for the good of communities. Turkson advised business leaders to consider that the products they put into society should better the lives of their consumers and involves God’s will. Turkson made it a point to inform business leaders that it was possible for both worlds to coexist and create a common good.
“We are inviting people to be transcendent and go beyond themselves, to see meaning in what they do and how it fits into God’s plan, especially when the individuals are Christians,” Turkson added.
Appointed by Pope Francis as Chancellor of the Pontifical Academics for Science and for Social Sciences, Turkson’s mission is to promote “the study and progress of the social sciences, primarily economics, sociology, law and political science, thus offering the Church those elements which she can use in the development of her social doctrine.”
“Our attempt is simply to carry the church’s message to all these companies,” Turkson said. “It’s not to say they’ve never heard the Gospel…we know clearly faith without work is dead. To connect our faith with work means that we engage society to make our faith have an impact,” Turkson added.