Category: News and Events

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Associated Press Photo

In a rare 393 to 0 vote, The U.S. House has officially condemned the Islamic State and its crimes against humanity, by passing H. Con. Res. 75. The hope is that this will give greater attention to and eventually action to help the victims of the Islamic State.   Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry  (R-NE), this bill “[expresses] the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL [The Islamic State of of Iraq and the Levant] against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” [emphasis added]

This bill declares that:

  • the atrocities committed against Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities targeted specifically for religious reasons are crimes against humanity and genocide; (more…)
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Acton Building located in downtown Grand Rapids’ Heartside District

A two-year dispute between the Acton Institute and the City of Grand Rapids over the non-profit’s exempt status under state property tax law is over, with Acton emerging the victor.

In 2014, the City rejected Acton’s request for a tax exemption on its building, parking areas, and personal property at 98 E. Fulton. Acton purchased the property in 2012 and spent much of the next year renovating the property. An appeal before the City’s 2014 Board of Review was denied, leading Acton to bring its case before the Michigan Tax Tribunal in Lansing. On March 8, Presiding Judge Preeti P. Gadola granted a Consent Judgment between Acton and the City, bringing two years of litigation to a close.

Since filing its appeal in 2014, Acton has paid more than $205,000 in property taxes, which the City must now refund, with interest. Acton will be exempted from these taxes going forward.

“We were confident from the outset that Acton would prevail on the merits, and we did,” (more…)

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The Bosses of the Senate, a cartoon by Joseph Keppler. First published in Puck 1889.

Cronyism is ugly. It hurts the economy, it’s unjust, and corrupts the core of democracy.  “The damage that cronyism has inflicted on the economy is considerable,” Samuel Gregg writes in a new piece for Public Discourse. “[C]ronyism also creates significant political challenges that, thus far, Western democracies are struggling to overcome.”

The crony capitalism seen from the Trump presidential campaign and many others is not something that’s new to America or Western civilization. As long as there have been governments, there have been powerful people seeking special favors from them. From the 17th to 18th centuries, mercantilism “dominated the West,” which involved powerful guilds working closely with their government officials to limit trade and stifle innovation. Gregg explains the cronyism that’s common today:

Today’s crony capitalism is not outright corruption, though it often verges on or morphs into illegal activity. The expression itself first emerged in 1980 to describe how the Philippines’ economy functioned under the Marcos regime. It became prominent in explanations of the 1997–1998 Asian financial crisis, especially the role played in that crisis by government decisions that favored business “cronies” (many of whom were relatives) of political leaders, such as Indonesia’s then-President Suharto.

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The film “Spotlight” won 2016 best picture and original screenplay Oscars but Acton Institute co-founder and President Rev. Robert A. Sirico “eviscerated the Academy for embracing ‘Spotlight’ while it celebrated a child molester in its own ranks,” according to the Hollywood gossip site TMZ. The interview was picked up by Brietbart.com which reported that “while Sirico agreed the film ‘underscores the great shame’ of the chapter in the Church’s history, he hammered the industry for standing by confessed child sex abuser Polanski.” Brietbart added this transcript of the TMZ video:

“What is lamentable to me, particularly in the kind of celebration over this … is that it [Spotlight] covers a scandal that took place in the very year that the Academy … itself awarded an award to Roman Polanski, who is a child molester,” said the priest and commentator. He added: “There is just this contradiction … the church needs to, and I think has done many things to repent, of the heinous crime of child abuse. I wonder if the rest of our society, particularly Hollywood and the school system, and many other secular institutions would follow along.” (more…)

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Henri de Lubac

Writing for the Catholic World Report, Acton’s Director of Research Samuel Gregg, reflects on Cardinal Henri de Lubac, whom he calls one of the “greatest theologians” of the 20th century. Gregg also argues that de Lubac’s interest in how secular ideologies such as Marxism or socialism had such influence on the Western church would benefit us today. “As someone immersed in the history of theology,” Gregg says, “de Lubac understood that the antecedents of some of the most insidious modern political ideas law deep in the past.”

Though well-known for his work in opening up the Church’s rich intellectual patrimony and his influence upon key documents of Vatican II, de Lubac was far from being a reclusive scholar. Coming from a fervently Catholic French aristocratic family, de Lubac could not help but be conscious of the deep fractures between the Church and the forces unleashed by the French Revolution. Nor was he afraid to immerse himself in many of the epoch-making conflicts of his time. Indeed, de Lubac definitely had a mind for politics—but not of the type you might expect.

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Blog author: sstanley
Monday, February 22, 2016
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Alexander Hamilton

Reason doesn’t seem to have had a significant influence in the 2016 election thus far. Populism, on the other hand, has been having a good run. Despite Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders appealing to very different groups and offering seemingly different platforms, they’re both populists. Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, has noticed a striking similarity between the populist playbook Trump and Sanders use and the rhetoric that Alexander Hamilton spoke out against in the 1780s.

Writing for The Stream, Gregg warns that “Populism endangers liberty:”

To be sure, populism is often fueled by legitimate dissatisfaction with the status quo. Americans have good reason to be furious with their political and economic leaders, especially those who rarely venture outside the New York-Washington DC axis. When Sanders shouts that the economic system is rigged and Trump thunders against an out-of-touch political class, they have — as no less than Charles Koch (who’s very critical of both men’s economic policies) has affirmed — a point.

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This afternoon, Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico joined host Neal Cavuto on Fox Business Network’s Cavuto Coast to Coast to comment on the strange back-and-forth between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Pope Francis.

After the jump, we’ve posted audio of Rev. Sirico’s appearance this morning on the Chris Salcedo Show on KSEV radio in Houston, Texas to discuss the same issue.

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