Transparency in the Church

Transparency is an aspect of the virtue of truthfulness. Thus, it is closely linked to, according to St. Thomas actually a part of, the virtue of justice. When it comes to the Church, transparency takes on a whole new dimension. Transparency is not only a central principle of business ethics but is crucial for the Church because the Church is essentially a truth telling institution. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is Himself Truth and Light! “…the Church searches for truth, proclaims it tirelessly and recognizes it wherever it is manifested. This mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce.” (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, 9) The Church also says the truth about herself, even when that is unpleasant. Think of the public request for forgiveness by St. John Paul II for the sins of members of the Church: During Lent of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, John Paul II kissed the wounded feet of the Crucified Jesus in atonement.

 

Transparency is not only a central principle of business ethics but is crucial for the Church because the Church is essentially a truth telling institution. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is Himself Truth and Light!

Individual transparency before God is so important that the Church protects the confession of our sins in the sacrament of reconciliation with a seal, the seal of confession. We can be certain that no priest will reveal what we bring up in confession.

The Church demands transparency of international organizations. “Hence it is to be hoped that all international agencies and non-governmental organizations will commit themselves to complete transparency, informing donors and the public of the percentage of their income allocated to programs of cooperation, the actual content of those programs and, finally, the detailed expenditure of the institution itself.” (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, 47) The Church is the biggest international organization worldwide. She should lead with good example. Unfortunately, the Vatican (and local churches too) have repeatedly made bad headlines in financial affairs, damaging the reputation of the Catholic Church everywhere. We urgently need a change of cultural mindset, in order to repair the trust of the faithful that their donations and the material assets of the Church be wisely expended and in conformity with the Gospel.

Photo by Marian Kroell on Unsplash

Msgr. Martin Schlag, J.D, STD.<br>Chair, Program of Church Management
Msgr. Martin Schlag, J.D, STD.
Chair, Program of Church Management

Prof. Msgr Martin Schlag, J.D., S.T.D. is Doctor iuris at the University of Vienna, Austria, and Doctor Theologiae at the Pontifical University Santa Croce, Rome. In 1996 he was ordained a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei. From 2008 to 2017 professor for social moral theology at the Pontifical University Santa Croce, Rome, as well as cofounder and Director of its Research Centre Markets, Culture and Ethics. Since 2015 also professor for Business Ethics at the University Roma 2 Tor Vergata, and since 2016 at the IESE Business School in Barcelona. 2012 appointment as Consultant to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. As of August 2017 Professor for Catholic Social Thought, Holder of the Alan W. Moss endowed Chair for Catholic Social Thought at the Center for Catholic Studies, University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), Director of the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought.