The Acton Institute’s annual Acton University conference kicked off on June 12, 2012 with an evening plenary session featuring a conversation with public intellectual, author, and former US Ambassador Michael Novak.
Legatus, an international organization of Catholic business professionals, is celebrating its 25th year of existence. The mission of Legatus is to help its members and spouses live out their Catholic faith and to spread that faith “through good works, good ideas, and high ethical standards.”
The current issue of Legatus magazine features an article by the Acton Institute’s Michael Matheson Miller, research fellow and director of Acton media. Entitled ‘Poverty, social justice, and the role of business’, Miller points out that business people – especially business people with well-developed faith lives – have a crucial role in alleviating poverty and creating truly just environments in which to grow businesses:
Poverty has been the norm for most people throughout history. The real question is: How do we create wealth?
That’s where businesspeople come in. Governments can help by providing clear private property rights, rule of law and justice. But they cannot create wealth. The Church is essential because it helps build a moral culture that supports strong families and vibrant communities. But the Church’s function is not to create wealth. Wealth is created through business and entrepreneurship….
I encourage you to think about how to bring your faith and business skills to bear on questions of poverty, social justice and development. It’s not easy and there isn’t single or simple solution to poverty, but the role that faithful Catholic businesspeople can play has been overlooked. It’s time to change the paradigm.
The men and women of Legatus receive professional and spiritual support in order to make a positive impact in business, community and family life. They stand poised to change the paradigm, as Miller states, in their vocations as faithful business leaders.
On May 15, Socialist Francois Hollande will be sworn in as France’s new President following elections this past weekend. According to Vatican Radio, Hollande is vowing to overturn many of current President’s Sarkozy’s economic reforms, in an attempt to relieve France’s current debt crisis. One of Hollande’s goals is to increase taxation on millionaires to 75 percent. With more than a quarter of a million French citizens already working in London, this type of heavy taxation may cause an exodus of wealth from France – people with the ability to create and sustain businesses will simply take their money elsewhere to invest.
Kishore Jayabalan, the director of the Rome office of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, spoke to Vatican Radio about the election. You can listen to that interview; click on the audio player:
Current debates surrounding the U.S. federal budget have turned the spotlight on subsidiarity, solidarity and the common good, all aspects of Catholic social teaching. In an article by the Catholic News Service’s Dennis Sadowski, Acton research fellow and director of media Michael Matheson Miller said, “The principles are there. They are to guide us and we are to pay attention to them. You have to affirm those principles. Where Catholics are going to disagree is in the prudential implementation of them.”
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan was criticized for citing these principles in his draft of the 2013 budget.
Catholic critics, primarily from academia and community organizations tackling social justice issues, have challenged Ryan on his claims, charging that he is misusing Catholic teaching to support a blatantly political agenda that makes scapegoats of the poor and endangers vulnerable people.
Taking a more measured approach, the chairmen of two U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops committees have voiced their concerns about cuts in several domestic and international programs. Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, have called for “shared sacrifice” and a “circle of protection” around the poor and vulnerable in budget negotiations.
Acton Institute is once again offering a free ebook; this time, Banking, Justice and the Common Good. From now until May 5, 2012 at 3 a.m. EST, you can click on this link and download the monograph for free.
We’d appreciate your comments and thoughts on the book. When you’ve finished, please go to the Amazon page for the book and leave a review.
The Detroit News editorial page today features Kishore Jayabalan’s commentary regarding the pro-business statement made by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP). Jayabalan, Director of Istituto Acton in Rome, says this:
It may be easier to describe the contents of the PCJP statement by saying what it is explicitly not. It is not a policy statement on the merits of financial regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley or the Tobin Tax. It is not a call-to-action to storm the barricades and “expropriate the expropriators,” the old Marxist term for an overthrow of the capitalists. And it is not a statement intended to discourage faithful Christians from engaging in the buying and selling of goods and services, as if these are grubby, disreputable but sometimes necessary ways to make a living.
It’s not quite a how-to manual for busy executives and managers who are struggling to live their faith in the workplace either, yet The Vocation of the Business Leader wants to encourage and inspire us to “see, judge, and act” wisely and prudently.
Speaking of the time he spent in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal, Chuck Colson said: “I couldn’t have made it without Christ in my life, I know that. But I couldn’t have made it if there wasn’t in the back of my mind a belief that God had a purpose for this.”
You’ll hear those words in “Like I Am,” a segment from the Acton Institute’s Our Great Exchange: Discover the Fullness of What it Means to Be God’s Steward small group curriculum scheduled to be released this summer. This September 2011 interview was the last Colson granted before his death on April 21, according to Prison Fellowship Ministries. The “Like I Am” segment was produced by David Michael Phelps in association with Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Gorilla Pictures for Acton Media.
We have also published “Chuck Colson and the Acton Institute,” a web-based resource page where you’ll be able to access “Like I Am” and a lot more of Colson’s Acton-related writings, interviews and media extending back almost 20 years. Of special interest is his concluding keynote address “How Now Shall We Live?” at the October 1998 Acton Institute and Calvin College conference, A Century of Christian Social Teaching: The Legacy of Leo XIII and Abraham Kuyper.
In his PowerBlog tribute to Colson, Rev. Robert A. Sirico expressed his admiration “for a man whose witness to the reality of Jesus Christ and his redemptive power was an inspiration for me to be a better priest and a better Christian. The authenticity of Chuck Colson’s conversion and the integrity of his life were evident to any honest observer.”
As Prison Fellowship and The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview put it, in a joint statement, “Chuck’s life is a testimony to God’s power to forgive, redeem, and transform.”
Since your wallets are probably a bit lighter due to Tax Day here in the United States, Acton wants to help out by giving you a free e-book: Globalization, Poverty and International Development. Just follow the link, Globalization, to get our monograph from Lord Brian Griffiths delivered free to your Kindle or e-reader. This offer is available beginning at 3 a.m. EST, 4/17/12 until 3 a.m. EST, 4/19/12.
Kirk Cameron, actor and Christian, is touting his newest production, the documentary Monumental. The aim of the film, according to its website, (http://www.monumentalmovie.com/) is to follow Cameron’s journey “as he seeks to discover America’s true ‘national treasure’ – the people, places, and principles that made America the freest, most prosperous and generous nation the world has ever known.”
This is a fine proposal. The majority of Americans would agree that we live in the freest, most prosperous and most generous place in the world. However, Cameron’s documentary has some problems.
For instance, one of the scholars he interviews, David Barton, notes that in 1782 “Congress printed the first English language Bible”. There is a mountain of evidence to counter this, including the fact that William Aitken, a Philadephia publisher, produced an English Bible in 1777, not to mention English-language Bibles dating back to 1539.
The real issue with Monumental however, is its seemingly narrow view of the freedoms we Americans enjoy. While our nation was clearly established on Judeo-Christian values, the issues of freedom and liberty go beyond the Pilgrims quest for a land in which they could print and distribute Bibles. Humanity’s desire for freedom has roots in Plato and Socrates, the Middle Ages of Europe and the founding of our nation by men and women of deep faith in God. More compelling than history, however, is the fact that we are created by a God who grants us free will; it is our very nature to be free. Human action does not create freedom: God grants it. From philosophers to abolitionists, preachers to politicians, America’s desire to be a place of freedom for all is indeed a monumental notion – deeply rooted in a biblical foundation and our very human nature.
Acton Institute’s The Birth of Freedom takes a much broader look at this same issue: the ancient roots of liberty, and how America prospered from this rich worldview. If you are seeking a critical, coherent, and prudent discussion of freedom, watch The Birth of Freedom.
Wheaton College recently hosted “A Conversation on Unity in Christ’s Mission” with pastor John Armstrong, founder and president of ACT 3, and Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago. The dialogue between Pastor Armstrong and Cardinal George explored the common ground and current challenges that face Catholics and evangelical Protestants in Christian faith and mission. You can watch a video of the event on the ACT 3 website.
Armstrong also examined this theme in his recent book The Unity Factor, published by Christian’s Library Press. In his book, Armstrong outlines his vision for a deeper unity between Christians of various traditions and challenges our easy acceptance of divisions while helping us envision how our future can be better than our recent past.