Over at World Magazine, Lee Wishing cites a speech by Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute, on the subject of putting our faith in God and our own abilities instead of the government to manage economies. He quotes Rev. Sirico: “Many thinkers throughout the ages have noted that we face a choice between holding a robust faith in God or putting faith in man and institutions such as the state.” In such tough economic times, we are reminded that we need to put our faith and trust in God first.
According to the Catholic News Agency, an Italian newspaper claims to have acquired some parts of the upcoming Caritas in Veritate encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI. Some of the quotes published by Corriere della Sera are claimed to be from the encyclical and align with the predictions that the Pope will be advocating for morality to be the basis of solving our economic crisis. Here is a quote:
Without truth, without trust and love for what is truthful, there is no conscience or social responsibility, and the social action falls under the control of private interests or logics of power, with the destructive effect on society, even more on a society on the way to globalization, in difficult moments like the current ones.
Corriere della Sera also says that the encyclical will address a number of global issues, including world hunger. The Italian paper pulls a few other claimed quotes from the Pope’s encyclical: Charity in truth requires an urgent reform to confront courageously and without hesitation the great problems of injustice in the development of the nations; Food and water are universal rights; [and] the development of all nations depends above all in recognizing that we are one single family.
Despite all of the rumors, predictions, and claims to know what the Pope’s encyclical actually says, we are going to have to wait until to release to finally hear the Pope’s words. The PowerBlog will continue to cover the encyclical prior to and after its release.
A reader makes a request:
My purpose for writing is simply to request the Acton Institute make a public statement on its website to repudiate Mr. Sanford’s actions, in large measure because he was prominently featured in Volume 18, Number 3 of Religion & Liberty journal. Of course your organization is not expected to guarantee moral behavior of its featured contributors simply because none of us knows what is really in the hearts and minds of our neighbor. Governor Sanford previously demonstrated he was a man of character and integrity, but even the most upright man is in danger of falling. My request is for the Institute to denounce Mr. Sanford’s actions in the same public manner it praised his approach to politics last summer, in order to assure its viewers that it is not complicit with his actions.
If not exactly a denunciation, here’s an explanation for why we interviewed Gov. Mark Sanford. We opened the pages of R&L to the governor because of his record as a fiscal conservative and his willingness to talk about the way faith guided his public life. Here’s a sample of the interview:
R&L The religious views of candidates and their support among various faith traditions played a big role in the 2008 presidential race. Is this a good thing?
Sanford It is. But I don’t know if it was more window dressing than not. Obama had Rick Warren speak at the inauguration, and then got some guy of another persuasion to give the benediction. I don’t think you want it as an accoutrement. I think that you want it to show up in policy. In other words, conversation is certainly an important starting point. It can’t be the ending point.
Somewhere, that “deeds, not words” philosophy fell by the wayside. Yes, Gov. Sanford fell and fell hard. But he was lying to many people about his public life and private conduct. And we got taken in, too.
Now, we watch the sad spectacle of a politician clinging to power after he has obliterated any moral claim to continuing in office. He is refusing to go, and absurdly compares himself to Biblical figures. (more…)
There has been much discussion, commentary, and debate on Pope Benedict’s much anticipated encyclical on the economy Caritas in Veritate (remarkable for a statement that has not yet been released). At the PowerBlog, we will keep you informed on what is being said about the encyclical and, when it is released, we look forward to providing great coverage.
In effect, what Benedict laid out last night likely amounts to the theological and spiritual substructure of the encyclical, minus the specific economic prescriptions.
The core of what Benedict said, during an ecumenical vespers service at the grand basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, is that building a better world requires forming better people. Structural reform thus presuppose personal moral and spiritual renewal, including a life devoted to prayer and the sacraments.
Allen further hints at the theme of the encyclical with his statement:
The idea that a better world must be built on better people is likely to be a core theme in Caritas in Veritale, and the pope dealt with it at length yesterday.
“Paul tells us [that] the world cannot be renewed without new human beings,” Benedict said. “Only if there are new human beings will there be a new world, a renewed and better world.”
There is much speculation that the new encyclical will be in favor of free markets and Novak responds to the criticism from those on the left:
For moralists, it is essential to see how often (not always) government itself sins grievously against the common good, out of a lust for power and domination over others. Furthermore, government often (not always) generates foolish and destructive regulations, and often dispenses justice that winks rather than justice that is blind. Government is more frequently the agent of injuring the common good than the ordinary lawful actions of free citizens. During the twentieth century, governments too often destroyed the common good of their citizens for years to come.
Tomorrow, June 26, theaters across the nation will begin screening for the general public “The Stoning of Soraya M.” This drama reenacts the true story of an Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery and punished according to sharia law. The film is produced by Stephen McEveety (“The Passion of the Christ”) and features an impressive international cast.
Since the movie’s title gives the climax away, rest assured that the film contains much that is suspenseful. Jim Caviezel portrays French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam. Much like Spencer Tracy’s character in the 1955 John Sturges film, “Bad Day at Black Rock,” Sahebjam chances upon a town with a dark secret – in this instance, the stoning of the title character through the manipulations of a husband who wishes to take a 14-year-old child as a wife and fears he cannot afford to maintain two households.
When Soraya refuses her husband a divorce, he puts in place the dramatic machinery leading to her death. The filmmakers ably display how a less-than-free society can be easily corrupted, but doesn’t adopt the too easy tropes that all men are bad, all women victims – or even that Islam is a bad religion.
I highly recommend this film, but must warn that the violent act of stoning is graphically depicted. The direction of the script is taut and suspenseful, and the acting and production values superb.
I interviewed McEveety on June 10. Below are several of my questions and his answers. For more of this interview, readers can access the Mackinac Center for Public Policy Web site beginning July 3.
Bruce Edward Walker What is it about Soraya’s plight that you and your collaborators found so compelling?
Stephen McEveety It was the characters that were for me so intriguing. I knew that the story could be new and fresh if done right. I think the story unfolds quite well and that viewers come to care very deeply about the characters. There are good guys and bad guys, but viewers can see parts of themselves in all of the film’s characters.
BEW When/how did you decide, “I have to make this movie”?
SM The story that was presented to me blew me away. I wasn’t looking for this, it came to me. I was able to finance it without too much difficulty. It just came together…. When I finished reading the script, my reaction was probably similar to when I finished watching the completed film. The story was so compelling, and it was incredible how quickly we were able to put it together. But I have to say that I think the movie is 10 times better than the script.
BEW I like how the filmmakers succeed in making nearly all the characters three-dimensional. Even the husband isn’t depicted as being 100 percent evil.
SM It would’ve been easy to show him as the embodiment of pure evil, Bruce, but that’s seldom true of any human in any society. It’s important to know that even if he’s a terrible man with horrible motives, he’s not beyond redemption. Maybe not by human standards, but certainly by God’s.
BEW Is the film intended to be an indictment of Islam or the hypocrisy of some of those who may practice it as in any other faith or religion?
SM I believe this is a very pro-Muslim movie. From the beginning we approached this as very respectful toward the true Islamic faith. This wonderful, beautiful Muslim woman keeps her faith to the end. She’s representative of the Muslim faith. The film is an illustration of how any religion can be abused in a repressive environment. It’s a true story made by persons familiar with the world Soraya M. lived in. We have shown it to Middle Eastern audiences and they have embraced it.
Recently the Acton Institute pulled back the political camouflage of the Lifestyle Tax, a new tax under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee, and exposed it as an extension of the Sin Tax. The Senate Finance Committee is considering levying the Lifestyle Tax to raise funds for President Obama’s health care plan.
Reverend Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute, wrote an article on the Sin Tax and the proposal of expanding it to tax soft drinks. You can read Rev. Sirico’s column in The American.
In the midst of the release of his expected encyclical, Pope Benedict is calling for a new world economic order; a model that is “more attentive to the demands of solidarity and more respectful of human dignity.” Professor Philip Booth, editorial and program director of the Institute for Economic Affairs, and speaker at Acton University, was interviewed by The Catholic Herald, a UK paper, about the Pope’s upcoming encyclical:
…it would be dangerous to follow a path of greater socialization and greater regulation of the economy and financial sector. This is a model that has been tried and which is failing.
But what is essential is ethical renewal in all aspects of life-including in the financial sector. Trying to deal with problems such as the lack of ethics in economic life with more regulation is like trying to deal with promiscuity through sex education lessons – it is the wrong instrument.
Kishore Jayabalan, director of Istituto Acton in Rome and an AU lecturer, was also interviewed by The Herald.
The Pope’s challenge to all of us is that we make the best possible use of our freedom and gifts, which will require a bit more intellectual and spiritual fortitude than we’ve seen from most of our political and business leaders recently.
Pope Benedict’s encyclical is expected to be released on June 29. The Acton Institute will be commenting on the encyclical once it is released and we encourage everybody to return to the PowerBlog and our website for more commentary.
Today marks the opening of the much-anticipated Acton University 2009, a four-day conference exploring the intellectual foundations of a free society, held annually in downtown Grand Rapids.
In these troubled economic times, this conference is more relevant and valuable than ever, featuring a diverse schedule of over 50 courses dealing with economics, Christian theology and social thought, philosophy, and business. Almost 400 participants from nearly 50 countries will learn from a world-class faculty, engage in rigorous discussion, and deeply reflect on these issues of liberty and morality which are so important to the future of society.
For those who are unable to attend the conference conference, the communications staff here at Acton will be doing our best to deliver the conference to you in a variety of ways. For starters, you can click here check out the ActonU Feed, live from Twitter, where many Acton University participants will be twittering about their experiences at the conference. You can also Subscribe to this feed to receive the AU updates in your RSS reader. And if you have something to twitter about AU, don’t forget to use the #actonu hashtag so that you are included in the larger discussion!
We plan to post some of the great audio from the Acton University lectures that will happen later this week, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you’re eager for AU audio you can check out our archive from last year.
In addition, Al Kresta, host of Ave Maria Radio’s flagship national production Kresta in the Afternoon, will once again be broadcasting live from AU from Wednesday, June 17 through Friday, June 19. Listen live on the Ave Maria site from 3 – 6 PM (EST) as Al Kresta interviews AU speakers and attendees.
We also hope that it will be an active week for AU in the blogosphere, and we’ll do our best to bring you highlights with some blogger roundups. Fr. Z from What Does the Prayer Really Say? will be with us once again, as well as many other avid bloggers. (If you are liveblogging from the event, let us know in the comments!)
Check back for updates on the PowerBlog as the week continues. It’s sure to be a busy week with lots of great food for thought.
Upon Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court, a number of voices on the Christian and religious blogosphere wondered about the absence of press attention to the religious makeup of the court. The new court’s makeup, whether or not Sotomayor is ultimately confirmed, is historic. As Terry Mattingly wrote at GetReligion, tongue planted firmly in cheek, “prepare for more headlines about Catholics taking over our nation’s legal discourse.”
A few days later World’s Mickey McLean took note of the issue, and about that same time (after the “early” reports gave way to a bit more in-depth coverage), the mainstream press began to ask of Sotomayor, “Is She Catholic? Does It Matter?”
My trained and focused eye — trained to do “sightings” of public religion in the various media, including the internet, and focused on the chosen subject of the week — has been seeking evidence of anti-Catholicism among mainline Protestant and Evangelical leaders, in the form of expressions of worry and prejudice. Unless between Saturday (when I write) and Monday (when readers read) some surprise occurs, public controversies over her appointment will not yet have attracted the voice of any non-Catholic bishops, moderators, denominational presidents, church-body newspapers, or representative columnists.
I hope my piece appearing today on the First Things website doesn’t qualify as “evidence of anti-Catholicism,” so much as a critique of the state of contemporary Protestant moral, legal, and political thinking. Sotomayor’s appointment and the resulting Roman Catholic supermajority on the court ought to be met with some ambivalence among Evangelical Protestants. On the one hand, the bulk of Roman Catholic judges on the court are those most likely to be aligned with traditional Christian moral, legal, and political perspectives, historically shared by Catholics and Protestants alike.
On the other hand, the fact that half of all the Roman Catholics who have ever served will be serving simultaneously, and the fact that there will be only one Protestant on the court, does say something about the declining influence and vigor of Protestantism in the public square. That ought to be cause for concern and worry among Protestants. And that’s the point of departure for my First Things “On the Square” essay, “Sotomayor, Roman Catholic Supremacy, and Protestant Approaches to Law.”