Rafael Alvira, keynote, 4th International Colloquium, Christian Humanism in Business & Economics

Rafael Alvira, keynote, 4th International Colloquium, Christian Humanism in Business & Economics



At IESE’s 4th International Colloquium on Christian Humanism in Business and Economics, Peter Cardinal Turkson (President of the Pontifical Council for Justice & Peace) gave the Opening Keynote (see shot below). [Lower portion of the pic shows him attending the panel which I chaired & in which I presented my paper!]



The last Keynote Address was delivered by Prof. Dr. Rafael Alvira.

Rafael Alvira is Emeritus Professor at the University of Navarra, Pamplona. He has been for many years the Director of the Instituto Empresa y Humanismo (“Institute for Enterprise and Humanism”), Director of the Department of Philosophy and Director of the Program for Governance. He is Profesor Extraordinario of the Mendoza University (Argentina) and the University of Montevideo (Uruguay).

CV-Rafael Alvira-JPG

Born in Madrid, Spain, he took up Secondary school studies at the Instituto Nacional “Ramiro de Maeztu” of Madrid. His Tertiary education was in various Universities, mainly at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid, and at the University of Navarra. He holds a Licenciate in Philosophy and Letters with Double majors (History and Philosophy)). He finished So­bresaliente cum laude at the University of Navarra, and obtained his Doctorate in Philosophy (Sobresaliente cum laude and Class Valedictorian) at the Complutense de Ma­drid University and Doctorate in Philosophy at the Lateran University in Rome. He spent two years at the University of Münster and another two years at the Lateran University in Rome. He has lived and studied in Austria, France, U.S.A., and England, among others. He became Associate Professor for Metaphysics at the Universidad Com­plutense of Madrid in 1975, and in 1979 he became Full Professor at the State University of La Laguna. He is a Member of many Distinguished Societies. He has been Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters. He has published 15 books and more than 300 articles within his specialization.


On speaking of the topic “Does Spirituality Matter in Leading Enterprises?”, Prof. Alvira reminded us that we cannot be truly free if we are not capable of renouncingof accepting limitations. The good leader is one who is capable of renunciation, and thus is capable of deciding in the correct manner, for the sake of the good of the stakeholders. Also, as opposed to contemporary thinking, the leader is the person who obeys most in the organization: a permanent obedience to practical truth. He reminded us of that sure or inevitable limit that we all have: death. Many of us believe in a life hereafter: “To think of living forever in this world is rather boring.” Belief in Christ is transformational: it transforms our capacities, our competencies, our interior life, our soul, and only then does one understand the language of love and of friendship, that the authentic leader is one who exercises the virtues: of respect, generosity, patience…



Since Prof. Alvira’s speech, I’ve been thinking of the word renounce/renunciation and struggling with the sense in which he was using the word renunciar (Spanish). Online dictionaries give us the following:




  1. formally declare one’s abandonment of (a claim, right, or possession).
  2. refuse to recognize or abide by any longer.
  3. declare that one will no longer engage in or support.

If I’m not mistaken, the radical sense in which renunciation was being used was “self-renunciation” and “abandoning oneself”. In the last paragraph of his written speech, we find: “To be a true leader within a system that is structurally not spiritual is of course a difficult task. But if someone is not willing to pay the price, then he ought not to take up the role. And paying the price means something characteristic of the spirit: renunciation.”

Sr. Helen Alford, another one of the Keynote Speakers, put a nice end to the discussion when she commented: “I think your idea of ‘ability to renounce’ really gives completion to the whole idea of leadership being discussed here. Elsewhere, there is so much emphasis on achieving, obtaining, working excellently … but the idea of abandonment is something new, something that puts a final touch to the definition of a true leader.” [not verbatim, but based on my notes]

This idea of abandonment is I think the point Prof. Alvira wanted to make, given that, in answer to a question during the Open Forum “What do we do when we find ourselves in extremely difficult, constraining work circumstances?”, he said: “Two things: (1) Do your best. Persevere. (2) When you can’t anymore, say “AMEN!” I give myself up to God” [or something to this effect].”

I think this would be the notion or sense of renuncia most in line with the “Radical Humanism of Rafael Alvira” 🙂


*To those who were there, and are reading this, please correct me if I’m wrong. Let’s discuss. I hope you’d use the comments space below. THANK YOU.