Category: News and Events

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California Flag

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has decided to uphold the California Department of Managed Health Care’s 2014 mandate that health care providers must include elective abortion coverage in all their plans. Previously, several health insurance companies in California had provided plans exempting these services for customers with religious objections, including churches and religiously-affiliated schools.

The statement released by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) under the HHS rejected complaints that the California ruling violated the Weldon Amendment, which protects health care providers from being compelled to provide abortions. The amendment refuses to fund government programs that discriminate “on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.” The definition of health care entity includes those directly providing the services, such as doctors, hospitals, and insurers. In response to the challenge, the OCR has determined that only the religious objections of those entities must be respected, not religious objections of their customers. The OCR statement points out that none of the health care providers had religious objections, so California can legally compel them to provide abortion services in their insurance plans. (more…)

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The United Kingdom shocked everyone and made the decision to leave the European Union. With 72.2 percent voter turnout, 51.9 percent chose to leave. England and Wales voted to leave while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. You can see a breakdown of the referendum numbers at the Telegraph.

Acton’s director of international outreach and author of The New Totalitarian Temptation, Todd Huizinga, issued the following statement congratulating the Brits on their decision:

Hats off to the British people and the courage they showed in the Brexit referendum.  Despite the fear-mongering and scare tactics of the Remain campaigners and the European Union, the British reclaimed their right to self-government.  They have set an example for people all around the world, and especially in the West.  With the ongoing erosion of democratic sovereignty occurring in Europe and America, the politicization of the courts and the alarming growth of the administrative state throughout the West, we are called to emulate the strength of conviction of the British and reassert control over those we elect and the bureaucracies that are meant to be accountable to those who represent us.

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Ivorian widows run a small restaurant in Yopougon. UN Photo/Ky Chung

 “Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.” Deuteronomy 27:19a

Today is International Widows’ Day (IWD), a day to recognize the situation that widows (of all ages) face internationally and at home. From the United Nations:

Absent in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, neglected by national and local authorities and mostly overlooked by civil society organizations – the situation of widows is, in effect, invisible.

Yet abuse of widows and their children constitutes one of the most serious violations of human rights and obstacles to development today. Millions of the world’s widows endure extreme poverty, ostracism, violence, homelessness, ill health and discrimination in law and custom.

Despite some gains in gender equality worldwide, many women are still among the most vulnerable and marginalized. One woman tells of horrific abuse she suffered because she is a widow:

When Clarisse’s husband died of malaria last year in the Cameroonian city of Douala, she was kicked out of their home by his family and forced to marry his brother.

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On June 16, His Eminence Metropolitan Tarasios of Buenos Aires spoke at Acton University at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His remarks touched on a wide range of subjects including the upcoming Orthodox Christian council in Crete, which begins on June 19, Catholic-Orthodox relations, and other topics. The American-born bishop serves in the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

According to his official biography, Met. Tarasios was born Peter (Panayiotis) C. Anton in Gary, Indiana, in 1956 to Peter and Angela Anton. The family moved to San Antonio, Texas, in 1960, and young Peter grew up in the Church of St. Sophia in San Antonio. He studied at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, as well as Trinity University in San Antonio, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana (M.A. in Theology 1983), the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, and the Pontifical School of Paleography and Archives at the Vatican. (more…)

You don’t necessarily have to be a member of the Libertarian Party to appreciate it. In a new piece for the Federalist, Acton’s director of programs, Paul Bonicelli suggests that there are libertarian questions that voters of all parties should be asking. Libertarians, with a focus on limiting federal power, question the size and scope of the state and its bureaucrats, as anyone supporting individual freedom should.

Some of the questions Bonicelli offers are:

  • Does the U.S. Constitution permit the government to do this?
  • What would this power look like if it were expanded dramatically in scope or in time?
  • Does this power represent the government putting its thumb on the scales to prefer some competitors over others, perhaps based on their relative power and influence?
  • Are we acting out of fear, anger, or self-promotion?
  • Is there any evidence the government is any good at this?
  • What would your worst enemy do with this power?

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On this edition of Radio Free Acton, we take a look at the upcoming referendum in Great Britain which will decide the fate of the UK’s membership in the European Union. Todd Huizinga, Acton’s Director of International Relations and author of The New Totalitarian Temptation: Global Governance and the Crisis of Democracy in Europe, joins the podcast fresh from his latest European trip and shares his analysis of the pros and cons for Britain, as well as the reaction in Brussels to the vote and what it may portend for the future of the EU.

You can listen to the podcast via the audio player below; I’ve posted links to some of the articles we discussed after the jump.

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forgodandprofitSamuel Gregg’s latest book, For God and Profit: How Banking and Finance Can Serve the Common Good argues that making a profit and living a good, moral life are not mutually exclusive endeavors. People are taking notice. In a new review of the book at Zenit, Fr. John Flynn agrees with Gregg. “[M]oney and finance,” he begins, “play an essential role in the well-being of persons and nations and they are not of themselves immoral.” He continues:

Another handicap to an accurate moral analysis of the morality of finances is that for a long time, since the late-seventeenth century in fact as Gregg pointed out later in the book, there has been a real dearth of in-depth commentary by Christians in this area.

Gregg’s book is indeed a much needed addition to Christian reflection on this subject. He starts with some chapters detailing the historical development of theological analysis, above all on the subject of the legitimacy of charging interest on loans.

As well as an outline of the involvement by Christians in the development of banking in the second part of the Middle Ages Gregg also explained that it is an area in which Christians can participate with a clear conscience provided that profit realized through finance is:

+ Understood as a means to an end.

+ Never seen as an end in itself.

+ Used to serve rather than diminish what we understand as human flourishing.

Read Flynn’s “ANALYSIS: Faith, Morality, and Money” in its entirety at Zenit. Also, as part of For God and Profit’s “book tour,” Samuel Gregg was featured on Ave Maria Radio’s Kresta in the Afternoon discussing banking and Catholicism. You can listen to their conversation here.