Category: News and Events

Blog author: jcouretas
Saturday, November 21, 2015
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Syrian children, from the June 2013 issue of The Word Magazine (Antiochian Orthodox Church)

Syrian children, from the June 2013 issue of The Word Magazine (Antiochian Orthodox Church)

We’re having an intense, often heated, debate about the reception of Syrian refugees in the United States. How do Eastern Christians see it? The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, an Archdiocese of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, has issued a balanced and unflinchingly critical statement on the crisis. This is a church that traces its history to apostolic times in Syria and other parts of the Middle East. Many North American Antiochians are themselves immigrants or can trace their family history back just a generation or two to the villages and parishes that are being destroyed by the Syrian war. The statement follows in full. Also see my April podcast with Mark Ohanian, director of programs for International Orthodox Christian Charities, who talked about the Syria relief effort, and the massive flow of refugees into neighboring countries such as Lebanon.

Statement from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America on the Reception of Refugees in the United States in Light of Recent Terrorist Actions around the World

Since the tragic terrorist actions in Paris, Beirut, Mali and elsewhere in the past two weeks, there have been polarized reactions to the reception of refugees, mainly of Syrian nationality, worldwide: an understandable reaction of concern on the one hand, but a sad overreaction of fear on the other. We are all concerned first and foremost for the safety of the citizens of the United States which must be continually addressed and assessed. At the same time, the humanitarian disaster caused by the war in Syria to which the U.S. government has contributed by calling for the removal of the established Syrian leadership – as it did in Egypt, Iraq and Libya – requires a moral response from the people and government of our great country. Misguided U.S. foreign policy helped create the so-called “Arab Spring” which has been a “tornado” that has destroyed Arab countries, leaving power vacuums that have fostered the soaring, vicious activity of terrorist groups including ISIS, al-Nusra, and others in the Middle East and around the world. All of this has resulted in an unprecedented number of deaths of innocent people and lack of basic services like healthcare and sanitation, healthy food and drinking water, safe and dignified housing, and so forth.

We must us not be guided by fear or bigotry, but rather let us work to heal the wounds of the injured, clothing the naked and feeding the poor as our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ has taught us (Matthew 25:35-36).

Blog author: rsirico
Thursday, November 19, 2015
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The Acton Institute lost a great friend last week.

Austin Hill

Austin Hill

I first met Austin Hill at 1997 an Acton Institute, Towards a Free and Virtuous Society conference held in Connecticut. Those conferences were designed to identify young future religious leaders with great potential. We invested well with Austin, who came to numerous of our events over the years. He would becom a radio host, author and public speaker and was most recently producing “Austin Hill’s Big World of Small Business,” a syndicated talk show about entrepreneurship and small-business ownership. The Idaho Statesman noted that Hill previously hosted “The Austin Hill Show” on KINF and was employed by IdahoReporter.com, an arm of the libertarian lobbying group the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

Having been a guest on Hill’s show a number of times over the years, I recall him as informed, inquisitive and professional

Austin died unexpectedly last Friday night probably from cardiac-related causes. He was a man committed to his family, the gospel of Christ and the promotion of the free society.

The Townhall website has a more extensive account of Austin’s accomplishments and you can see some of his columns here.

Austin had many things left to accomplish in life, but the Sovereign Lord whom Austin served knew he could perhaps accomplish them better in another way.

In lieu of flowers, it is requested that gifts be sent to a college fund for his son, Graham, a high school senior. To find out more about that, click here.

Requiescat in pace.

Blog author: sstanley
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
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ADAMS231011_2__2034469cWriting for Public Discourse, Samuel Gregg has some rather negative predictions about the European Union in a new piece titled, “The end of Europe.” Gregg begins by quoting France’s leader during World War II, General Charles de Gaulle. In his Mémoires d’Espoir, de Gaulle saw Europe as having “a spiritual and cultural heritage.” He wrote that “the same Christian origins and the same way of life, linked to one another since time immemorial by countless ties of thought, art, science, politics and trade.” The current crisis in Europe reflects de Gaulle’s insights. European governments have abandoned their Judaeo-Christian origins and have placed their faith in bureaucracies whose authority stretches beyond country borders, but who are guaranteed to further European decline.

Gregg states that there are essentially three concepts to consider regarding Europe’s current issues: (more…)

Do Google Earth satellite images point to more grim news from inside North Korea? According to an article from United Press International (UPI), Curtis Melvin of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University noticed a substantial difference in satellite images of a North Korean prison camp from 2013 to some taken last month:

[A]erial snapshots from Oct. 15 indicated considerable changes have been made to Camp No. 16.

Melvin said the new changes included dams, hydroelectric power plants, apartments for the camp’s guards, an athletic field, a mine and fish farms. These facilities were not visible in satellite imagery taken in 2013.

The latest construction appears to indicate that North Korea is planning for an increase in the population of inmates detained at Camp No. 16 … In 2014, Amnesty International said in a statement the camp imprisons about 20,000 people and the prisoners are forced to work in very treacherous conditions. [emphasis added]

Camp No. 16, also known as Hwasong or Myonggan concentration camp or Kwan-li-so (Penal-labor colony) No. 16. Camp No. 16 is a prison-labor colony where detainees are expected to work for life with no hope of being released and it is the largest of all the penal-labor camps in North Korea. The UPI piece points out that it was one of five political prisons where up to an estimated 120,000 people are punished for various “crimes against the state.” Despite testimonies of defectors who survived these camps and later escaped North Korea, Pyongyang denies the existence of camps and has officially accused all the witnesses of lying. (more…)

Amoo, de Roy, Ofori, Agyepong, Boakye, Unknown, Unknown (3) - Copy

Acton University 2015 Attendees

We are now 211 days from the opening day of Acton University 2016! University.Acton.org 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…)

Rome

Rome

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…)