Virtuous or Pious?

In a recent discussion of the use of the word ‘virtuous’ to describe the type of business leaders we want to develop in the Benedictine College School of Business, there was signficant pushback to the use of ‘virtuous.’  Among the arguments were both recruiting and placement concerns about a word that can generate a variety of perceptions.  These are valid given the general marketplace’s lack of readiness for such things.

The argument that surprised me most was the thought that ‘virtuous’ can be interpreted as ‘pious’ – or a hypocritical concern for virtue or religion.   I guess I was shocked that the real practice of virtue, which is what we are talking about, is the furthest thing away from ‘pious.’  I do understand, though, the perception of many of the Christian church in general, which stands as judged hypocritical for its ‘talking’ yet not its ‘walking.’  Isn’t this what we are trying to fix?!

Is ‘pious’ the perception generated for you with the word ‘virtuous?’


One comment on “Virtuous or Pious?

  1. J. Christopher Pryor says:

    I think this discussion highlights why Catholic institutions need to get back to St. Thomas Aquinas and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. One should not confuse the terms of “virtue” and “piety,” which are two separate concepts. Neither of these terms is defined as a “hypocritical concern for virtue or religion.” If there are those who falsely interpret these notions, shouldn’t it be the goal of a Catholic academic institution to correct the false notion and not just accept it?

    “Virtue” is an ancient concept that goes back to Aristotle and has been adopted by the Church. It pertains to formation of a good habit that is created when one consistently choses the mean between an evil by excess and an evil by omission. For instance, a business owner practices the virtue of leadership when he or she avoids the excess of driving the employees to hard and avoids the opposite pitfall of permitting the employees to not achieve any work performance goals. Perhaps the answer is to educate and not avoid a good concept like “virtue” just because some might misunderstand. The business community could benefit by being introduced to Catholic social principles. A proper introduction to virtue and piety wouldn’t hurt either.

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