Category: Vatican

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“:
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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.

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pope in crowdIn today’s Roll Call, Acton Institute president Rev. Robert Sirico comments on Pope Francis’ September visit to the U.S. and what may be part of the dialogue when the pope is here. While the media tabulates the pontiff’s popularity on certain topics, Sirico says there are more important things to note.

Popularity ratings may be important for politicians but not for a pope believed to be the successor to St. Peter and the Vicar of Christ on earth.

His job is to preserve the truths of the Faith, not put them up for a vote.

The Church is not a democracy, whereby some polling data could alter the content of the Church’s doctrine the way McDonald’s might alter the ingredients in a Big Mac.

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francis 4With only a few weeks before Pope Francis makes his first U.S. visit, the media frenzy is already beginning. At Crux, the observation is made that “pet projects” of Catholics across the nation will be vying for Vatican attention. However, the pope likely has his own agenda.

With his encyclical, Laudato Si’, still fresh in people’s minds, Pope Francis will certainly speak to the environment. Also, the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia is on his schedule. But with stops in New York City and Washington, D.C., talk will also likely turn to business and economics. And that, says Acton Institute President Rev. Robert Sirico, is concerning.

[Pope Francis] has an allergy to economics, that he doesn’t quite get it, that he’s never really studied it,” Sirico said, referring to the pope’s admission that economics isn’t his forte. (more…)

Pope Francis has started an important global discussion on the environment with the release of his encyclical Laudeto Si’, which the Acton Institute has been engaging in with vigor since it’s release, and has been ably covered as well here on the PowerBlog by the likes of Bruce Edward Walker and Joe Carter. But this isn’t the first time that Acton has waded into the debate over protecting the environment; Acton Founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico was debating Matthew Fox, proponent of deep ecology and a so-called “creation spirituality” back in 2000, and we’ve talked extensively about environmental stewardship as part of our Effective Stewardship curriculum and other publications as well.

Another recent example of Acton’s engagement with issues of environmental protection came as part of the 2014 Acton Lecture Series, as The Very Reverend Michael Butler and Andrew Morriss, Dean of the Texas A&M Law School, collaborated on a presentation at the Mark Murray Auditorium in the wake of the release of their monograph, titled Creation and the Heart of Man: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on Environmentalism. As the debate over Laudeto Si’ continues, we’re pleased to present this valuable contribution from the Orthodox Christian perspective.

Back in June, Fr. Michael Butler responded to Laudeto Si’ at Acton University. After the jump, you can hear his thoughts upon the release of the encyclical. (more…)

pope-rainThere has been no document by a world leader that has received more attention this year than Laudato Si.

Three months have passed since Pope Francis released his encyclical on the environment, and yet the media coverage and political commentary on it has hardly waned. Here on the Acton PowerBlog, Bruce Edward Walker has been compiling a daily list of links related to news and commentary on the encyclical. To date he has 62 posts with hundreds of links.

As the Associated Press notes, “The document had a rollout unlike any other.”

The encyclical was introduced at the Vatican by a secular climate scientist and a top Orthodox Christian leader, with simultaneous news conferences by Catholic leaders in many countries and the chiming of church bells for emphasis. Francis underscored the importance of the document by sending it to the world’s bishops with a handwritten note.

Yet despite all the hype and effort, few Catholics in the United States are even aware of the encyclical, much less know the Pope’s views on the environment:
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