Nigel Baker: "The Family is at the Heart of Our Social and Moral Structure"

UK Ambassador to the Holy See Addresses Pontifical Council of the Family

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ROME, DEC. 14, 2012 ( Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, addressed the Pontifical Council of the Family yesterday, speaking on the theme of family businesses and values.

Included in the panel discussion of were Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Pontifical Council for the Family president, and Mario Molteni, professor of business economy at Milan’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. The discussion was organized by the International Association Carità Politica.

In his speech, Ambassador Baker cited the example of R. Durtnell and Sons, a family business located near his home in Kent. Founded in 1591, it is the oldest firm in the country, having survived economic downturns by setting aside money in the event of such financial difficulties.

«Such prudence and foresight goes, I believe, with the longevity of a business such as Durtnells. And it also flows from the fact of being a family business. It is not just that the owners are from the same family. Generations of people from the surrounding area, some also from the same families, have worked at the company… They are survivors, and new orders are on the way to secure the livelihoods of the 130 staff and their families who depend on the business. In good times and bad, they are at the heart of the local community.»

Ambassador Baker noted the role of the family as the root of society’s moral center. «You do not have to be religious to recognize that the family is at the heart of our social and moral structure. And also to accept that law, regulation and the free operation of the market can never be a substitute for morality.»

«In business, as in the rest of life, the family can help to provide that underpinning of an essential value system that may be missing elsewhere.»

Turning back to the examples provided by his own country, he continued: «It is clear that many of Britain’s most famous business names were forged on the rock of family, very often also reflecting values derived from a strong religious sense of responsibility to the workforce, to society, and to family well-being.»

The ambassador concluded: «If, as I do, you believe that the family is the repository of the best of the values that society can deploy, you will also believe in the family business.»

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