STEUBENVILLE, OH—"The Church's telos, the Church's end, the Church's ultimate goal in her social doctrine is nothing short of human redemption itself," said Father Robert Sirico, Acton Institute founder and president, to the captivated audience that filled every seat, bench, and aisle in Franciscan University of Steubenville's Gentile Gallery on Thursday, September 15.
Father Sirico delivered a 35-minute lecture titled "Catholic Social Teaching: Developments, Insights, and Boundaries" that explored how working and creating business while proposing—rather than imposing the Church's moral consideration—are key factors for the successful implementation of Catholic social teaching.
A recurring theme in Father Sirico's lecture was that Catholics are capable of bettering themselves by bettering their world. He said, "The choices and actions of human beings transform the world so that it comes closer to the transforming vision we find in the Gospels."
Father Sirico credited industrious people for transforming the world for the better.
"They infuse into the material world, what we call the creation of wealth. That's why the entrepreneur really is a servant. The best entrepreneur, certainly the Christian entrepreneur, is going to see his or her role as a servant bringing forth from nature that which has not been utilized but which can be used for human service."
He eloquently defined the intrinsic sacredness of creating for your fellow man, saying, "It is by the use of our talents, ideas, risks, and investments that we draw from the material world and fashion things of use for others. That's a proper understanding of what business is."
A question-and-answer session followed the lecture. Addressing the students in the room, Father Sirico explained that pursuing higher education should be considered a sacred vocation.
"This is what's going to give you a foundation, so that at some other point in life you're really going to impact the world for good."
He also thanked the professors for teaching at Franciscan University and, by doing so, participating in "this construction of the civilization of love."
In a stirring closing, Father Sirico spoke to the audience as a cohesive group of Catholics on the precipice of changing the world for the better by first changing themselves for the better. He emboldened listeners by saying, "My friends, we can win this battle ahead of us, but you must first apply yourselves. You must become excellent; God calls you to be excellent."
He paused for a moment to look over the crowd, took a deep breath, and said, "Become saints. God bless you."
Father Sirico's lecture was sponsored by Franciscan University's Advancement Office and the new Center for Leadership as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series, which features leaders who are recognized for exemplary service to the Church and society. All talks are free and open to the public.
The next Distinguished Speakers event will feature Alexandre Havard, founder of the Havard Virtuous Leadership Institute, on October 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Gentile Gallery, J.C. Williams Center. For complete video and audio of Father Sirico's talk, go to the Distinguished Speakers Series page.