Category: Vatican

When Bob Dylan wrote, “The Times They Are A Changin’,” I doubt he had the Swedish Academy in mind. Nevertheless, by awarding him the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature the Academy has made a bold statement for a change in the way songwriting is viewed as literature.

Many people have already complained that there were many more worthy potential recipients. But let’s face the facts: Bob Dylan won, and they lost.

He likely didn’t even know he was competing. (Reportedly, he was in Las Vegas for a performance when the award was announced.) But he won.

Now, I suppose it could be argued, as have some, that he hasn’t really produced any literature. Whatever one thinks of him winning, however, I don’t think that’s fair. Haters gonna hate, I guess.

The official press release, cited here in full, states, “The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 is awarded to Bob Dylan ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.’”

This isn’t much to go on. One would think that with such a revolutionary choice, more explanation would be in order. But, I mean, c’mon. (more…)

wikileaks-catholicHave you ever wondered what liberal political activists and politicians think of Catholics? Well, thanks to Wikileaks you can get a glimpse into their views. In a couple of emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s account there are exchanges in which conservative Catholics are mocked.

The first is the amusing titled “Catholic Spring.” Sandy Newman of Voices for Progress tells Podesta that she thinks there needs to be a “Catholic Spring” akin to the “Arab Spring”, the series of protest against authoritarian regimes that took place in the Middle East in 2011. Newman writes:

This whole controversy with the bishops opposing contraceptive coverage even though 98% of Catholic women (and their conjugal partners) have used contraception has me thinking . . . There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church. Is contraceptive coverage an issue around which that could happen. The Bishops will undoubtedly continue the fight. Does the Catholic Hospital Association support of the Administration’s new policy, together with “the 98%” create an opportunity?

Of course, this idea may just reveal my total lack of understanding of the Catholic church, the economic power it can bring to bear against nuns and priests who count on it for their maintenance, etc. Even if the idea isn’t crazy, I don’t qualify to be involved and I have not thought at all about how one would “plant the seeds of the revolution,” or who would plant them. Just wondering . . .

Yes, the Sisters of the Poor would be totally onboard with requiring them to pay for abortifacients if only they didn’t count on the Vatican to subsidize their lavish lifestyles.

Podesta responded by saying:
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But was anyone listening?

That’s my question after attending the 2015 Nobel-prize-winning economist‘s talk last night in Rome at the Vatican-sponsored Cortile dei gentili (Court of Gentiles).

Like the other speakers, Deaton voiced his concerns about income inequality. Unlike the others, however, he said much of it is caused by crony capitalism, a term whose meaning seems to have been lost on the Italian interpreter and hence the audience. She described it as “a type of capitalism” and “negative capitalism” but never really made the connection to politics, which is unfortunate given the high number of Italian politicians in attendance.

Deaton added that countries become rich by escaping poverty, not by impoverishing others, that technological progress has undoubtedly made us richer, and that the world has greatly benefited from globalization even though too many people are still left behind. Government interference through taxes, regulation and corruption does more harm than good. The major problems with globalization are therefore political, not economic.

There were also a number of Italian cardinals and bishops in attendance. Here’s hoping that some of them relay Deaton’s clear-as-day message to Pope Francis, who really ought to be saying, “Crony capitalism kills!” instead of blaming the market economy in general. It is an obvious distinction to economists. In Italy, no one seems to know the difference.

RatzingerIn a new article for Public Discourse, Samuel Gregg, the Director of Research at Acton, talks about the “Regensburg Address” and what it means 10 years later.  Benedict XVI’s speech at the University of Regensburg on September 12, 2006 “managed to identify the inner pathology that is corroding much of the world, how this malignancy emerged, and what can be done to address it.”

According to Gregg, this speech “showed how a collapse of faith in full-bodied conceptions of reason explains so much of our world’s evident disarray.” But the Roman Pontiff didn’t just pull this idea out of nowhere; this is a concept that has been long featured in Joseph Ratzinger’s writings.   Gregg goes on to explain:

For what is at stake, Ratzinger believes, is nothing less than humanity’s ability to know the truth. And if man is defined as not just the one who knows, but as the one who knows that he knows, any faltering in his confidence that human reason can know truth that is more than empirical not only leads to the dead ends of fideism or sentimentalism. It obliterates man’s very distinctiveness. At the same time, recovering this confidence in reason has never, for Ratzinger, been about turning the clock back to a pre-Enlightenment world. In many ways, it’s about saving modernity from itself by opening its mind to the full grandeur of reason and, ultimately, the First Cause from which all else proceeds.

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Blog author: KHanby
Friday, September 9, 2016
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Sistine Hall.

The finances of the Catholic Church, and more specifically of the Vatican, are quite the mess. When Pope Francis was elected, he recognized this problem and appointed Australian Cardinal George Pell as the inaugural Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy.  Cardinal Pell was given the authority and the task to clean up the finances of the Vatican, something that has been an issue since the mid-1970s.  But now reports are surfacing that Pell is losing his authority to make any moves toward resolving this problem.  Samuel Gregg recently wrote a piece for The Stream explaining what is at stake if the Vatican fails to fix its financial problems.  Gregg starts out by making the claim that this could really hurt the Pope’s image:

Whatever the cause, any serious obstruction or even termination of Pell’s efforts to make all the Vatican’s institutions fully financially transparent and subject to modern auditing requirements surely would be judged as a major failure of this papacy. Moreover, given the amount of time and words Pope Francis spends denouncing what he regards as various economic and financial injustices, that rhetoric will seem somewhat hollow if there’s any perception he couldn’t get his own house in order.

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Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
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canonizationOn Sunday, Mother Teresa of Calcutta became St. Teresa (though Pope Francis said, “We will continue to call her Mother Teresa.”). Mother Teresa was the 29th saint canonized by Pope Francis during his three-year pontificate.

While 29 may sound like a lot, Francis’s per-year average (9.7) is just slightly more than Pope Benedict’s pace (6.4 a year) and much, much slower than Pope John Paul II, who averaged 18.2 a year. Still, the increase in the rate of saint-making means you have an increased chance of joining those ranks.

Assuming you meet the other qualifications (be a Catholic, meet the requisite miracles, etc.), what should you do to improve your probability of canonization? For starters, you may want to move to Italy: 46.7 percent of saints lived in that country at the time of their deaths.

That’s one of the many intriguing tidbits to be gleaned from Barro, McCleary, and McQuoid’s 2010 paper, The Economics of Sainthood (a preliminary investigation):
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Following the recent Rome conference “Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time”, held in celebration of 125th anniversary of Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical on private property, the Industrial Revolution and the spread of Marxist ideology, Acton’s Samuel Gregg was interviewed by Shalom World TV.

Vatican journalist Ashley Noronha, who hosts the India-based religious news magazine Voice of the Vatican, asked Gregg what was the the connection between religious and economic freedom and how traditional Catholic social teaching is responding to contemporary threats such liberties.  This is what he had to say: (more…)