What American Would You Appoint to the Pontifical Commission on Economic Structures?

Today’s news about Pope Francis’ appointment of a Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the economic-administrative structure of the Holy See has me pondering the commission’s members:

Dr. Joseph FX Zahra (Malta), President
Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda (Secretary of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs), Secretary
Mr Jean-Baptiste de Franssu (France)
Dr. Enrique Llano (Spain)
Dr. Jochen Messemer (Germany)
Ms. Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui (Italy)
Mr. Jean Videlain-Sevestre (France)
Mr. George Yeo (Singapore)

I enjoyed watching this Rome Reports video to learn more about the goal of the Commission:

Video link

Viewing the video and knowing that Pope Francis is desirous of administrative structures which aim at “simplification and rationalization of the existing bodies and more careful planning of the economic activities of all the Vatican Administrations” reassures me about the direction he is taking in the wake of so much devastating financial news.

But I’ll admit to a bit of nationalistic pride — I looked at the Commission’s members and wondered to myself, “…no one from the US?”

And then I began to play the mental game: “What American would I appoint?”

I’m not a businesswoman. And I’m by no means savvy about international economics. So the names I began to come up with were extremely reflective of my status as a suburban housewife, living in Fresno.  “Mr. XYZ could do it,” I thought to myself. “He’s really built us his Italian restaurant dynasty in the Central Valley. And he’s a holy man with a wonderful ethical attitude.” Trying to think with greater sophistication, I remembered a top notch Catholic real estate developer, and a strong, solid businesswoman who does estate planning.

Lame? Perhaps. But what Vatican Pontifical Commission wouldn’t benefit from a dash of “real world” perspective from a faith-filled Catholic who sits in the pew of a local parish on Sunday and spends the other six days of the week trying to keep a business afloat?

I’m turning to you for your suggestions – who would you like to see (hypothetically, obviously!) represent the US if such a spot were offered on the Commission? And perhaps more importantly than names, please share your thoughts on the character of the person you think would be the correct choice. The combox is open for your input!


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  • The Project

    Lisa, two suggestions – both friends, both faithful Catholics: John Lechleiter (CEO Lily) or Vince Caponi (St. Vincent’s Medical Group)

    • lisahendey

      Thanks for sharing these names — this will be a tremendous learning opportunity for me!

  • Well, I don’t know these folks, so I’m going to assume they’ve done business deals internationally and know the best practices across various regions (including the U.S.). I’d be curious to know if any of them have experience working on behalf of the poor, or have some sort of interest in the poor. That would definitely bring some much-needed, rounded perspective on the decisions to be made about Vatican operations.

  • Katie Dawson

    I would go with Dr. Andrew Abela, Dean of the Business and Economics School at Catholic University. He has a fine grasp of the discipline coupled with a strong understanding of Catholic social teaching – he is Maltese, and my sons at CUA assure me that he has a very cool accent and he is “sick”.
    He has a lengthy CV and currently consults with JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft and Paypal among others.
    And he has six children.

    • lisahendey

      He sounds like a perfect candidate Katie! Thank you for pointing him out to me so that I can learn more about him!

  • John

    I give credit for Pope Francis on choosing American Mary Ann Glendon–On June 26, 2013 Pope Francis issued a chirograph naming Glendon a member of the Pontifical Commission of inquiry for the Institute for Works of Religion.
    The Professor, along with two cardinals, a bishop, and a monsignor are
    responsible for preparing an investigative report on the Vatican Bank.

    • lisahendey

      Thanks for reminding me of that point John – a great appointment!

  • Chris

    Congressman Paul Ryan has demonstrated a clear understanding of the Catholic perspective on economics in the context of present-day society and its motivators. More importantly, he has undertaken to live his beliefs, even when simplicity of execution or satisfactory results have been elusive.