Category: Vatican

pope-francis-unThis morning Pope Francis gave an address to the UN General Assembly. As the pontiff mentions in his speech, this is the fifth time since 1965 that a pope has visited the United Nations.

In the lengthy address Pope Francis covers a wide range of topics, from the rule of law to nuclear weapons to the drug trade. Here are 15 key quotes from the speech:

Usury and Oppressive Lending Systems

[The equitable influence on decision-making processes by all countries] will help limit every kind of abuse or usury, especially where developing countries are concerned. The International Financial Agencies should care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence.

Rule of Law

The work of the United Nations, according to the principles set forth in the Preamble and the first Articles of its founding Charter, can be seen as the development and promotion of the rule of law, based on the realization that justice is an essential condition for achieving the ideal of universal fraternity. In this context, it is helpful to recall that the limitation of power is an idea implicit in the concept of law itself.

Limits of Power

As the Pope’s address to the US Congress drew to a close, France 24 Television turned to Kishore Jayabalan, Director of Istituto Acton in Rome, for a reaction to Francis’ message. You can view his analysis below.

pope-speaking-to-congressThis morning Pope Francis became the first pontiff in history to give an address the United States Congress. In his 30 minutes speech, which he delivered in English, the pope touched on wide range of issues, from the economics to the environment to global poverty.

Here are twenty key quotes from that address (quotes are combined by topic and not necessarily presented in the order given in the pope’s speech):

The Role of Law and Politics

[Speaking about Congress] You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk.


Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Political and Economic Injustice

We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The Role of Religion in Society

Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico joined host Laura Ingraham on The Laura Ingraham Show while stuck in Washington, D.C. traffic resulting from the arrival of Pope Francis in the city. They discussed the the optics of the Pope’s arrival at the White House, his comments there, and what to expect as the Pope addresses Congress tomorrow morning.

We’ve posted the audio of the interview below; our thanks to The Laura Ingraham Show for the kind permission to share this audio with you.

pope-oreoBased on their latest headline, it looks like someone from the Acton Institute is writing for the The Onion:

Pope Francis Reverses Position On Capitalism After Seeing Wide Variety Of American Oreos

As the article says:

Admitting the startling discovery had compelled him to reexamine his long-held beliefs, His Holiness Pope Francis announced Tuesday that he had reversed his critical stance toward capitalism after seeing the immense variety of Oreos available in the United States. “Oh, my goodness, look at all these! Golden Oreos, Cookie Dough Oreos, Mega Stuff Oreos, Birthday Cake Oreos—perhaps the system of free enterprise is not as terrible as I once feared,” said the visibly awed bishop of Rome while visiting a Washington, D.C. supermarket, adding that the sheer diversity of flavors, various colors and quantities of creme filling, and presence or absence of an outer fudge layer had led to a profound philosophical shift in his feelings toward the global economy and opened his eyes to the remarkable capabilities of the free market.

Sadly, the article is only satire. But buried underneath the humor is a serious question worth considering: What does our abundance of choice say about our economic system? As I wrote in my post on “3 Things I Wish Pope Francis Knew About a Free Economy“:

RS cover from 2014

RS cover from 2014

On Sept. 10, Rolling Stone magazine published a long article titled “Pope Francis’ American Crusade — The pope takes on climate change, poverty and conservative U.S. clerics.” From the title alone you could tell where this was headed. Predictably, the magazine asserted that “deeply alarmed by the power of Francis’ message, an entire network of -right-wing Catholic organizations has been increasingly willing to push back against the Vatican.” In ticking off members of this “network” it said this about the Acton Institute and yours truly:

Then there’s the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, which is run by a Catholic priest named Robert Sirico — he’s the brother of actor Tony Sirico, best known for his portrayal of Paulie Walnuts on The Sopranos — and hosts forums with titles like “Government: Less Is More.” Sirico recently wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal attacking “Laudato Si'” for its “decided bias against the free market and suggestions that poverty is the result of a globalized economy,” though he failed to disclose the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations Acton has received from extraction-industry giants such as Exxon Mobil and the Koch family.

I wrote a response to this article and sent it to Rolling Stone editors but they, not surprisingly, declined to publish it. Here it is in full:

To the Editor:

News Flash! Admitted pro-market think tank accepts donations from pro-market supporters. (“Pope Francis’ American Crusade — The pope takes on climate change, poverty and conservative U.S. clerics,” Sept. 10).

Of course this revelation is presented in Mr. Mark Benelli’s – what was it, op-ed, news analysis, hit piece? – as something far more sinister, implying, but not saying, that somehow The Acton Institute is controlled by the dark financial interests of evil capitalists, instead of the reality that (1) we hold to a position and (2) we invite others who hold to the same or similar positions to support us.

The deeper journalistic problem with this piece is its sheer superficiality in understanding Catholicism or what the Acton Institute (which, incidentally, is an ecumenical organization that works with people ranging from like-minded Evangelicals to observant Jews) does. This is understandable given that Mr. Benelli relies to a great extent for his research on the hyperbole from the fainting couch of one M.S. Winters who writes a breathless blog for the Rolling Stone of Catholic journalism, the National Catholic Reporter. (more…)

francis 2Just weeks before Pope Francis sets foot on U.S. soil, he’s all ready a sell-out in many places he’ll be visiting. And the media is trying to get a handle on just what the pontiff will be talking about while he’s here.

In The Detroit News today, Melissa Nann Burke talks to some Washington insiders, regarding the pope’s time there.

Guests of Michigan’s 16-member delegation for the Sept. 24 address include Paul Long, head of the Michigan Catholic Conference; Martin Manna, an advocate for Iraqi Christian refugees and president of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce in Southfield; the Rev. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids; and Karl Kiser, president of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy — a guest of Sen. Gary Peters.

“It is obviously a great honor to have Pope Francis address Congress,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing.