Category: News and Events

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Acton University 2015 Attendees

We are now 211 days from the opening day of Acton University 2016! is updated, full of brand new information, and ready to go for next year’s conference, held at The De Vos Place in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 14-17, 2016.

Registration will be open from today until May 20, 2016 at Midnight EST. That sounds like a lot of time, but don’t delay! We are offering two price points this year: $500 for students (either full or part-time, but currently enrolled in school at the time of Acton University) and $750 for regular attendees. If you’re on the fence about attending, read testimonials from past participants and why AU is a sound investment.

Some new things this year:

The four keynote speakers will be: (more…)



The recent “Vatileaks” scandal is almost entirely an Italian problem, according to Kishore Jayabalan, director of Istituto Acton. In a recent article for The Stream, Jayabalan describes his own experience moving to Italy and dealing with some of the corruption and problems he immediately faced, and how this culture ultimately caused the Vatileaks controversy:

When I first moved [to Italy] to work for the Vatican, my boss told me the hardest part of the transfer would be finding a place to live. “How could that possibly be in a European capital?” I thought. Well, it turns out that Vatican salaries, while tax-free and much sought after in Italy, are not very high and not enough to pay for an apartment on one’s own. The Vatican does own many apartments and rents them at affordable prices, but I was told they are nearly impossible to get. Not only must you be “raccamandato” but have a very influential Italian “protettore,” which mine was not. (He was merely a saintly man who survived 13 years in a communist prison.)

So I was left to fend for myself and, thanks be to God, I was able to find something affordable and centrally-located. But the fact that the Vatican apartments are not available to its foreign employees ought to be a scandal on its own. The Italians look after their own, even in the Vatican. (more…)

Fox News anchor Shepherd Smith in the studio

Yesterday at The Federalist, I examined the claims of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during last week’s GOP primary debate that the “mainstream media” is dominated by “liberal bias.”

While there is some truth to this claim, as I point out in my article, the data paints a more complicated picture: Conservative outlets such as Fox News and (editorially) the Wall Street Journal outperform the closest left-leaning ones, CNN and the New York Times, by wide margins.

I write,

It would be fair to counter that cable news is not the only source on television, and not even the most-watched. Fox has no evening news like ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS. The fact that, according to a recent study by the American Press Institute, “Democrats are more trusting of news from the three broadcast networks and the newswires, while Republicans are more trusting of news from cable” suggests the slant there tends to favor the Left.

However, people divide their news consumption today between mediums. That same study notes, “The 24-hour cable channels … are the source most often cited for four of the topics probed: politics, international news, business and the economy, and social issues.” So when it comes to political issues, the most common source, 24-hour cable news, is fairly evenly divided: Fox News generally has a Nielsen rating about equal to CNN’s and MSNBC’s combined.

A bit later on, I return to this point: (more…)

Blog author: sstanley
Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Russell Kirk

Writing for the Morning Sun, Acton’s frequent contributor Bruce Walker, discusses Russell Kirk, calling him a “Christian Humanist.” Walker argues that not only was Kirk a talented writer, but he also understood other Christian humanists and was able to clarify some of their works and theories:

Kirk may not have been the first, but was the scholar best able to identify [T. S.] Eliot’s nameless targets in the poem “The Hollow Men” as H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell, whom Kirk derided as “the intellectual enemies of the permanent things, those who wander amusingly into contrived corridors of the spirit – and beguile others, less gifted, after them.” It’s no doubt Kirk would’ve included John Dewey in Eliot’s gallery of progressive roguery. Kirk and Eliot both as well would no doubt exercise similar negative opinions on the entirety of the “I F[rea]king Love Science” trendiness of contemporary public “intellectuals” Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson whose subjective scientism (an ideology distinguished from objective science) is, in Eliot’s words: “Shape without form, shade with colour,/Paralyzed force, gesture without motion,” their whispering voices “quiet and meaningless/As wind in dry grass/Or rats’ feet over broken glass/In our dry cellar.” (more…)

1. Introduction

Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium[1] (EG) is not a text on economy: it is a fine and substantial magisterial reflection about the topic of evangelization in our days, a most extensive subject whose analysis exceeds the humble purposes of this article, and must await a later occasion.

However, Francis’ diagnosis of current circumstances holds some judgments on economic issues that have once again caused admiration and adhesion among free market critics, as well as concern or outright rejection among free market advocates. It is not, of course, the first time this happens. The same happened with Quadragesimo Anno, 1931, Mater et Magistra, 1961, Populorum Progressio, 1967, Laborem Excercens, 1981, and Solicitudo Rei Socialis, 1988. When talking about the content of those documents, I have always done the same: I have clarified semantic nuances and have drawn a distinction between the general principles of the Church’s Social Doctrine and its prudential applications.[2] In this case, I will further add an attempt at dialogue between the horizon of the Austrian School of Economics (ASE) and the one wherefrom Francis writes.


Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg, writing for The American Spectator, looks at the telltale signs of a great civilization in decline.

Many of us think of civilizational failure in terms of a society’s inability to withstand sudden external encounters. The sun-worshiping human-sacrificing slave-owning Aztec world, for instance, quickly crumbled before Hernán Cortés, a handful of Spanish conquistadors, and his native allies, and, perhaps above all, European-borne diseases. Given enough violence, superior technology, and the will to use it, an entire culture can be seriously destabilized, if not swept aside. Yet ever since Edward Gibbon’s multi-volume Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, it’s been impossible to downplay the role of internal vicissitudes in facilitating civilizational degeneration.

More than one person, I suspect, has been wondering lately about this issue of civilizational decline with regard to the West. Whether it’s Planned Parenthood’s diabolical activities, America’s de facto capitulation to Iran, Western governments’ failure to eradicate the cancer that is ISIS, or the same governments’ general unwillingness to overhaul their dysfunctional welfare systems, it’s harder and harder to deny that something deeper is seriously awry.

Read “Fear and Loathing Stalk the West” in The American Spectator by Samuel Gregg.

942772451cd966834f98da1416356590.1000x744x1Attacks on liberty seem to be the new normal, especially direct assault on freedom of speech and religious liberty. The news is filled with stories about Europeans and Americans being accused of “hate speech,” universities creating absurd speech codes, and faithful Christians being told to violate their beliefs or face jail time or fines.

The spiked Project “free speech NOW” will tackle these issues next month in our nation’s capital during the event, “The First Amendment in the 21st Century: Reinvigorating old rights for new times:”

spiked is not prepared to take the assault on our freedoms lying down. So, on Thursday October 15, in Washington, DC, we are holding a special, half-day conference on liberty, consisting of three lively and provocative discussions. In partnership with the Alliance Defending Freedom and supported by the Acton Institute, each session will explore the troubles afflicting core First Amendment freedoms – speech, press and religion.