Acton Institute Powerblog

Sirico at Georgetown: Good Intentions Depend upon Sound Economics

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On Tuesday, Acton’s president, Rev. Robert A. Sirico, joined three other prominent Catholic thinkers for a roundtable discussion of the U.S. bishops’ 1986 letter “Economic Justice for All.” Georgetown Univeristy’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs sponsored the discussion, and Berkley Center director Tom Banchoff moderated the proceedings.

The discussion, held on the left-leaning document’s 25th anniversary, addressed its legacy. Fr. Sirico’s contention was that the bishops “exceed[ed] their authority in an area where they lack competency,” in a way that, in hindsight, is “frankly embarrassing.” “Bishops should be bishops, not managers, not policy-makers,” he said, and noted that in the case of “Economic Justice for All,” it wasn’t even necessarily the bishops themselves who produced the silly economic arguments in the first place, but they had signed the letter.

Conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat agreed with that assessment, adding a point that Acton’s been making for 20 years: “Well-meaning public policy isn’t effective public policy.”

Catholic News Service article here, and Georgetown Vox Populi blog post.

Kenneth Spence


  • Well said Father Sirico!

  • Timothy O ‘Donnell

    Thank you for being a clear voice of sound teaching in the moral wilderness.

  • Floresnoreen

    In countries like The Philippines, I hope Acton Institute will initiate enlightenment to the catholic bishops there. The majority of the Filipino population has empowered the bishops so much that, indeed, they ” exceed their authority in an area where they lack competency”.

    • Roostercogburn

      If the area you are referring to is the heroic resistance of the Filipino people and their bishops against international socialist and malthusian agencies trying to impose their anti-family policies, then that’s PRECISELY an area where they are directly and absolutely competent and they have done a heck of a job so far.