Category: News and Events

Mideast Islamic State

Islamic State fighters march through Raqqa, Syria, in January. Photo: AP

With each passing day, the news is inundated with images of murder from the Islamic State. Anyone they target suffers not only death, but often a horrifically slow and tortuous one. What President Obama considered to be a “JV” team proves to consist of professionally trained, competent warriors bent on annihilating their foes. These terrorists attack any opponent who stands in their way, but reserve particular hatred and brutality for Christians. The war they wage is as much of a military conflict as it is an ideological conflict, their end goal being global subjugation to hardline Islamic Law.

What does this mean for Christians? As the secularization of Western culture further isolates Christianity, an open extermination assaults in the Middle East. In the modern era, the entire world seems to wage a relentless war against Christians. However, compared to what our Christian brothers and sisters living under the Islamic State endure, the trials of Western Christians seem trivial. Louis Sako, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, said in mid 2014 that there “were about 1 million Christians in Iraq and more than half of them have been displaced. Only 400,000 are left while displacement is still rising.” (more…)

Today at the Library of Law & Liberty, I examine Pope Francis’s recent speech in Bolivia, in which he calls for “an economy where human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life.”

I have no objection to that, but what he seems to miss is that the very policies he criticizes all characterize those countries in the world that most closely resemble his goal. I write,

So what stands in the way, according to the pontiff?—“corporations, loan agencies, certain ‘free trade’ treaties, and the imposition of measures of ‘austerity’ which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor.” Really?

Business, credit, trade, and fiscal responsibility are marks of healthy economies, not the problem, popular as it may be to denounce them. Indeed, these are also marks of economies that effectively care for “Mother Earth,” whose plight the Pope claims “the most important [task] facing us today.” That’s right, more important than the plight of the poor, to His Holiness, is the plight of trees, water, and lower animals.

That moral confusion aside, is there any way we could study what policies correlate with the Pope’s laudable goals? As it turns out, there is. The United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) ranks countries based upon an aggregate rating of economic growth, care for the environment, and health and living conditions—precisely the measures the Pope seems to care most about. Yet of the top 20 countries on the most recent HDI ranking, 18 also rank as “free” or “mostly free” on the most recent Heritage Index of Economic Freedom.

Read my full article, “Show Me the Way to Poverty,” here.

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Pope Francis in Bolivia | VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty

Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, recently wrote a piece for The Stream about Pope Francis and his visit throughout Latin America. This part of the world is dominated by “leftist-populist governments.” Latin governments often combines left-wing politics with populist themes. Leaders’ rhetoric generally consists of anti-elitist sentiments, opposition to the system, and speaking for the common people. Gregg argues that this sort of talk generally puts one group against another: the rich against the poor, foreigners against nationals…etc. This is especially true in Chávez’ Venezuela where it has caused countless problems:

Contrary to the protestations of Hollywood celebrities, Venezuela is simply the most advanced down the path of out-of-control inflation, price-controls, shortages of basic necessities (such as toilet paper), the systematic use of violence against regime critics, and complete contempt for rule of law.

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Are Naomi Kleins and Bill McKibbens the cool kids at Green Earth High School?

The unfortunate fallout of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si continues apace. One wishes the pontiff would’ve released it in four separate installments to avoid misinterpretation and seeming – to this reader, at least – contradictions throughout a somewhat unwieldy 180-some pages in which he alternately praises and disparages human technological improvements over the past two centuries. On one hand, he admires mankind’s ingenuity as an example of God’s blessing, but, on the other hand, he doth protest too much methinks those technological advancements and the markets that served as their midwife as somehow hurting rather than benefiting the poor (not to mention most of humanity).

To read Laudato Si as Pope Francis tells it, humanity is rushing like lemmings over a cliff constructed from air conditioners to intentionally despoil the earth for the poorest and, as a matter of fact, everyone else in the future. Except, of course, when it’s empirically untrue.

As anticipated, liberal media have seized upon the elements of Laudato Si embracing as settled science theories of human-caused climate change. At the same time, they ignore the inconvenient Catholic Truths of the text regarding the value of human life. (more…)

APTOPIX Charleston Shooting

Scene in Charleston after shooting.

In the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting in which nine people were killed during Bible study, debates and pushes for more gun control revived. Shooter Dylan Roof’s weapon of choice was a .45 caliber handgun with five extra magazines of ammunition. Rightly so, this heinous crime shocked the nation, especially religious communities. Calls for prayer and support for the victim’s families immediately followed the tragedy. Inevitably, these prayers were followed by new demands for gun controls.

Understandably, after such a depraved crime people react strongly, wanting to prevent any potential future occurrences. The president, evangelical leaders, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and other political and religious leaders all called for greater regulation of firearms. However, not enough policy advocates critically think about their positions and reason from first principles, considering philosophy and Natural Law before promoting drastic or even seemingly innocent changes. Many Catholic leaders, notably the USCCB, maintain a long standing position of campaigning for stricter gun laws and reducing the availability of firearms of all types. After examining the unintended consequences of gun laws and the flawed philosophy behind them however, one cannot remain consistent. (more…)

Blog author: bwalker
Friday, July 3, 2015
By

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Naomi Klein

In my lifetime I’ve witnessed some odd pairings – Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga being among the most recent – but none so bizarre as Pope Francis and Naomi Klein. The Pope needs no explanation, but Ms. Klein may leave some readers scratching their heads. The telegenic Canadian activist actually was invited to participate in a stacked-deck of climate-change true-believers at the Vatican.

Organizers of the event, “Planet First: The Imperative to Change Course” – held July 1 and July 2 at Rome’s Augustinianum University – also invited Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Bernd Nilles, secretary general of CISDE – “an international alliance of Catholic development agencies working together for global justice;” Flaminia Giovannelli from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; and Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office. Where was Bill McKibben and Al Gore? (more…)

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Sirico appearing on InfoBae TV in March.

While at Acton University not too long ago, Buenos Aires journalist Adrián Bono sat down with Rev. Robert Sirico to discuss Laudato Si’. Bono recently wrote about his interview with Acton’s president and co-founder at Infobae. “Muchos no saben que la encíclica depende de la hermenéutica,” Sirico argued, “que significa cómo puede interpretada. No es un documento infalible.” Simply put, Laudato Si’ is not a binding document for Catholics, but many don’t understand that. He continues on that thought:

Merece respeto, pero no necesariamente significa que los creyentes deben seguirla. En lo que respecta a sus enseñanzas de la doctrina, los católicos tienen la obligación fiel de seguirla, pero en lo que hace a sus declaraciones empíricas, esas se le dejan a la comunidad científica para que sean debatidas. La ciencia es un proceso abierto de debate y descubrimiento…A veces el Papa es imprudente al hablar de conjeturas científicas y análisis económico.”

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It’s been a busy week for the Acton Institute, with Pope Francis’ Laudeto Si’ arriving in the middle of our biggest conference event of the year, Acton University. As a result, there is a bounty of media for Acton supporters to enjoy this week. Here’s a review, in case you missed anything.

Let’s start off with Acton University: All four evening keynote speeches are available for your viewing pleasure on our YouTube channel. I’ve embedded the address delivered last Wednesday by Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College in New York City, in this post; be sure to check out keynotes from Samuel Gregg, Joel Salatin, and Rev. Robert A. Sirico as well. You might also check out this fine piece put together by Experience GR that looks at the Acton University experience.

We’re busy uploading almost 100 lectures from AU 2015 to our digital download store; mp3 versions of all four evening keynote addresses are available for free.

While Acton University was in full swing, Pope Francis released his encyclical letter Laudato Si’, which has created a wave of commentary not only on the state of the global environment, but also on the proper response of Christians and Roman Catholics in particular to the Pope’s assertions in the encyclical.

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The release last week of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si unleashed a heaven-rending chorus of hallelujahs from the religious left. The activist shareholder investors in the choir loft, those affiliated with the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, were no exception. No sooner had the ink dried on the paper on which the encyclical’s printed than ICCR members hauled out the hyperbole. For example:

Nora M Nash, OSF: Laudato Sii (Be Praised) will rise up and the cry of Mother Earth will be heard once again from the Amazon Rainforest to the Tiadaghton Forest; from Navidad Bianco Shanty Town in Mexico to Rana Plaza in Bangladesh; from the Great Mississippi to the Three Gorges Dam; from the oil fields of Alaska to mines of the Central African Republic. A new “Canticle of the Sun” will promote dynamic engagement across our fragile global community.

And this hubristic howler:

Zevin Asset Management: Zevin Asset Management is proud to be joined by Pope Francis in our focus on the urgency of climate change. The Papal Encyclical is evidence of the universal nature of the problem and we are hopeful it will inspire universal solutions. We anticipate that it will direct more investors to take up the issue of climate change solutions in their investment decisions.

To which this writer can only respond (sarcastically, of course): “Wow, the Pope is climbing aboard the Zevin bandwagon? Well, it’s about time!” (more…)

postudo-108Francis X. Rocca’s Wall Street Journal article about Laudato Si’ has been translated into Spanish. Featured in Tuesday’s EcoLinks, this piece addresses many topics surrounding the new ecological encyclical, including the pope’s seeming condemnation of capitalism. Rocca quotes Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg who argues that the system the pope condemns is not actually free market capitalism:

El pontífice argentino, el primero en la historia en provenir del hemisferio Sur, escribe sobre la “deuda ecológica” del Norte global con el Sur, aduciendo que “los pueblos en vías de desarrollo, donde se encuentran las más importantes reservas de la biosfera, siguen alimentando el desarrollo de los países más ricos a costa de su presente y de su futuro”.

Las duras palabras de la encíclica desataron una inmediata polémica, anticipando el peso que la postura del Papa puede llegar a tener en el debate sobre cómo responder al cambio climático. Samuel Gregg, un católico que se desempeña como director de investigación del Acton Institute, un centro de estudios ecuménico conservador que promueve el libre mercado, objetó las premisas económicas del Papa, al decir que Francisco tiene “puntos ciegos significativos” sobre la economía de mercado. También dijo que la encíclica “en muchos aspectos es una caricatura de la economía de mercado”.

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