Category: News and Events

When governments have followed the sort of environmental and free-market admonitions Pope Francis gave us in Laudato Si, negative results often follow. This struck your writer this past week as he read a piece reporting the unforeseen consequences of one specific wrongheaded environmental effort.

In his encyclical, Pope Francis writes:

Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor [italics in original].

Yet, the Pope’s analysis mostly responds to earthly matters when he praises biodiversity and ecosystems as well as:

… marine life in rivers, lakes, seas and oceans, which feeds a great part of the world’s population … affected by uncontrolled fishing, leading to a drastic depletion of certain species. Selective forms of fishing which discard much of what they collect continue unabated. Particularly threatened are marine organisms which we tend to overlook, like some forms of plankton; they represent a significant element in the ocean food chain, and species used for our food ultimately depend on them.

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Anyone not touched by Pope Francis’ appearance on ABC television earlier this month may want to have their pulse checked for signs of a heart. Quite frankly, he knocked it out of the park in this writer’s humble opinion. Whether speaking to the plight of immigrant children, obviously enjoying a young girl’s vocal rendition of a hymn, or offering encouragement to a single mother of two, Francis was in his element.

As I marveled at the Pope on primetime, national network television, I also considered his declining U.S. popularity ratings. According (subscription required) to National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru:

In 2014, 76 percent of Americans viewed him favorably. American conservatives have led the downward trend, with only 45 percent now positive about him. By comparison, 68 percent of liberals like him.

Much of this drop in popularity may or may not be attributed to the too-easy politicization of the Pope’s Laudato Si encyclical as well as very public pronouncements, much of which has been repeated devoid of context. (more…)

Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico was interviewed recently for a story on WHYY FM in Philadelphia discussing the Pope’s upcoming trip to the city, and focusing on the impact of his encyclical Laudato Si’ within the Catholic Church. Sirico points out that while the Pope is correct to urge Christians to be responsible stewards of God’s creation, the inclusion of specific policy proposals on climate may prove to be unwise in the long run.

You can listen to the full interview via the audio player below.

Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_079

Moses Breaking the Tables of the Law (1659) by Rembrandt.

The Supreme Court of the state of Oklahoma has approved to bring down the Ten-Commandment monument. Such decision entails an opportunity for us to ponder once again on the relation between Christianity and classical Liberalism.

We have repeatedly claimed that individual rights from the Anglo-Saxon tradition are of a Judeo-Christian, origin and that due to this, the US Declaration of Independence is fully coherent when asserting that God has endowed all men with the certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. To safeguard these rights, the 1787 US Constitution was later ordained and established.

Secularists –and not Christian healthy secularity- intend to sweep all the religious influence from the public square, when confusing “public” with “state”. That a nation such as the United States should acknowledge God as the origin of individual rights, far from being a sign of intolerance towards non-believers, grants the latter their utmost liberty, by grounding religious liberty not on the whim of the ruler, but on the recognition of natural law stemming from God through human nature. The Ten Commandments are precisely those explicitly proclaimed by God in rough times, to remind men about the elemental rules of justice and the notion of the individual person, almost impossible to have risen out in the West without God’s special intervention. (more…)

Blog author: Gzanotti
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
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Pope_Francis_Photo_1Since the publication of the encyclical Laudato Si by Francis, a long-unheard rumble has been growing across the world public opinion. He is an expert in making himself heard, so we might as well rest it as it is, because Francis would be pleased. Our readers, however, are used to our fixing troubles, so we will once again meet the subjective claim of the market.

The Laudato Si embraces three aspects: a theological aspect, an economic aspect, and a scientific aspect.

The primary aspect, also the specific realm of the teachings of the Church, is the theological one. Here lies a matter that has remained partly unseen or, better, unheard in the midst of the voices stirring, either in anger or in praise, about the Laudato. (more…)

The Acton Institute has been named as one of six finalists for this year’s $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award for its documentary film, Poverty, Inc. The announcement of the finalists was made Monday by the Atlas Network, a Washington-based organization that advances the work of market-oriented public policy organizations all over the world. The winner will be selected Nov. 12 in New York.

Atlas’ description of Poverty, Inc. says the documentary “provides a comprehensive perspective on the issue, giving voice to charity workers, local micro-entrepreneurs, politicians, and leading development experts such as Paul Collier of Oxford University, Marcela Escobari of Harvard University’s Center for International Development, and Hernando de Soto of Atlas Network partner the Institute for Liberty and Democracy. This film is part of Acton Institute’s multi-year educational initiative, PovertyCure, which also includes a dedicated website, a group study curriculum, a mentorship program, and a ReThink Missions toolkit.”

Kris Mauren, executive director of the Acton Institute, said that on issues of international development and foreign aid, the United States is at a tipping point. (more…)

Enlightenment-920x383In a recent article for The Stream, Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg asks the question, “Is Catholicism Compatible with the American Experiment?” Gregg cites an article by political philosopher Patrick Deneen who suggested that “the main argument among American Catholics will concern the relationship of modern liberal democracies–and, at a deeper level, the American Founding–with Catholicism.” Gregg doesn’t necessarily disagree with this assertion, but argues that it “reaches further back to the early modern period often called the Enlightenment.”

The Enlightenment was hugely influential on the American founding:

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, for instance, sharply disagreed on many subjects, but all their serious biographers concur that both were profoundly shaped by Enlightenment writers.

The intellectual developments associated with the Enlightenment shared an emphasis on (1) asking every belief and institution to justify itself rationally, and (2) applying the tools associated with the scientific method to as many spheres of life as possible. This focus on natural philosophy and the natural sciences was especially influenced by Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia (1687) and Newton’s successful integration of the mechanics of physical observation with the mathematics of axiomatic proof, and his development of a system of scientifically verifiable predictions. (more…)