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Samuel Gregg: Some political and social movements ‘prioritize equality over freedom’

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Following the recent Rome conference “Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time”, held in celebration of 125th anniversary of Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical on private property, the Industrial Revolution and the spread of Marxist ideology, Acton’s Samuel Gregg was interviewed by Shalom World TV.

Vatican journalist Ashley Noronha, who hosts the India-based religious news magazine Voice of the Vatican, asked Gregg what was the the connection between religious and economic freedom and how traditional Catholic social teaching is responding to contemporary threats such liberties.  This is what he had to say:

Many people, including myself and the Acton Institute, are very concerned that freedom is increasingly taken for granted today. We see in Western Europe, and even in the United States, the rise of political and social movements that prioritize equality over freedom. And this has implications for not just for the liberty of commerce or business and of individuals. It is increasingly having implications for religious liberty, which in many respects, is the first freedom, because what you believe about the nature of the divine, or even if you are not a believer, is really one of those freedoms that really helps to determine lots of other freedoms and liberties in society as a whole.”

“So we’re taking the view,” he said, “that economic liberty and religious liberty are seriously under erosion today, especially here, I must say, in Western Europe.”

Toward the end of the interview, Gregg said that modern Catholic social doctrine has “some profound things to say about how we elevate and promote freedom, but also remind us what is the ‘end’ of human freedom — what is the goal of human freedom — which we would argue is human flourishing.”

Watch the full segment here and follow the discussion on social media via the hash tag #125onFreedom.

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Michael Severance

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