In January 2007, Frank Hanna received media attention when his organization, Solidarity Association, graciously presented the Bodmer Papyrus, the oldest known copy of the Gospel of Luke in existence, to Benedict XVI. Subsequently renamed the Hanna Papyrus, It is now housed in the Vatican Library. In this interview with ZENIT, Frank Hanna discusses the significance of the Hanna Papyrus, as well as the importance of giving back to one’s community, and balancing work with charitable activities.
ZENIT: You were instrumental in securing the Hanna Papyrus, oldest known text of the Gospel of Luke, for the Vatican Library and presented it to Benedict XVI In January 2007. In a recent speech at Christendom College, you stated, “We are spiritual, but we live in this physical world, and thus physical evidence of that which has happened is important. Defending that physical evidence is important. Defending that physical evidence is not a substitute for faith, but it can enhance it.” Do you think physical evidence is as important to devout Catholics as to those who are struggling with their faith?
Frank Hanna: We are physical creatures, made in the image of God, and Christ was God in the flesh. Therefore, the “physical” is not something to be regarded as un-human, or unnatural, but rather as part of our essence. Each of our sacraments involves something physical, of this world, and no sacrament can occur without physical presence. Having said that, when Thomas insisted on feeling Christ’s wounds with his own fingers, Jesus made it clear that those who believed without actually seeing would be even more blessed. So I think physical evidence of our faith is to be embraced, but is not something on which we should rely for our faith.
ZENIT: You recently spoke to the students of Christendom College about defending the faith. Do you feel that your message is well received among the youth of today?
Frank Hanna: I think to the degree I can speak of Christ and our faith with authenticity, the message will be well received. If I fail to do that, not only should the message not be well received, I hope it won’t be. Students of every age have within them a hunger for truth and beauty. In today’s culture, there are a lot of distractions, but there is not a plethora of authenticity about truth and beauty. When Christians can live and speak about these blessings with authenticity, youth will listen.
ZENIT: You have generously shared your wealth with your community, founding three Catholic schools in the Atlanta area. In your experience, how has being able to give back to the community impacted your faith personally?
Frank Hanna: Our faith is not merely a theoretical construct. As St. Paul tells us, faith without works is a dead faith. So I am hopeful that any apostolic work in which I may have the blessing to participate becomes for me something that brings my faith alive. In practical terms, I have found that it is only in giving of ourselves to others that we are able to escape the chains of selfishness we inherited with original sin, and it is only in getting beyond our selfish desires that we can ever have true happiness.
ZENIT: As CEO of Hanna Capital, you are known as a successful businessman in the financial world; you are also recognized as a great philanthropist, passionate about your faith and helping those who are less fortunate. Does one identity beget the other, or do you see them as two distinct and separate qualities?
Frank Hanna: I am very hopeful, and I work toward the notion, that all of my life might be integrated. St. Joseph was not a carpenter some of the time and Jesus’ father at other times. He was always both. The roles were not in conflict with one another, but rather were integrated. Just as we can simultaneously be a spouse, parent, child, or sibling while also being Christians and apostles, so too can we be in business, or some other profession, and be charitable or philanthropic. They ought to beget one another.
ZENIT: In today’s society, there seems to be a feeling of leaving God in the background and justifying our gifts as solely of our own doing. What do you have to say to those who may feel this way?
Frank Hanna: None of us earned our birth, or our parents, or our intellect, or the sunsets we see, or the harmony we hear. Upon close examination, most of the best things in our lives, like our faith, are not things we earn. I think if we merely cultivate the virtue of gratitude, and truly reflect upon the multitude of blessings we have each and every day, we can avoid the trap of patting ourselves on the back and thinking we did it all ourselves. Gratitude seems to me to be one of our most underrated virtues, and yet one of the most important.
ATLANTA, Georgia, NOV. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org) Interview with Frank Hanna conducted by Traci Osuna.