Category: Vatican

Doug Bandow, member of the Advisory Board at the Acton Institute and Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, penned an exclusive article for the Acton Institute on the economic effect of the encyclical:

In Calling on Government, Laudato Si Underestimates Power of the the Market

by Doug Bandow

Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Laudato Si, offers a challenging read. That’s why he addresses his message to “every person living on this planet.” In his view “the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.” He advocates not only a practical political response, but more importantly calls mankind to a new “ecological spirituality.”

Indeed, his role, the Pontiff explains, is to help the rest of us apply the “rich heritage of Christian spirituality, the fruit of twenty centuries of personal and communal experience,” to the world around us. The Gospel should affect how we think, feel, and live. We should relate through it not only to people around us, but the entire environment.


Doug Bandow, advisory board member of the Acton Institute, praises the new encyclical for its understanding of man and religion, but criticizes it for its lack of knowledge of economics and politics in an article for The American Spectator.

Despite his commitment to ecological values, the Holy Father acknowledges that “a return to nature cannot be at the expense of freedom and the responsibility of the human being, that is the part of the world tasked with cultivating its ability to protect and develop their potential.” He also rejects “deification of the earth, which would deprive us of the call to collaborate with it and protect its fragility.”

Nevertheless, humanity’s responsibility for the environment is complex and the Pope discusses ecological values in the context of economic development and care for the poor. How to creatively transform but at the same time gently preserve the natural world is not easy. Unfortunately, in its policy prescriptions Laudato Si sounds like it was written by an advocate, largely ignoring countervailing arguments. The resulting factual and philosophical shortcomings undercut the larger and more profound theological discussion.

Read the full article “Praise ‘Be Praised’ for Its Intent, not Execution” at The American Spectator.


Peter Johnson, external relations officer for the Acton Institute, discusses the muddled economic message in the recent encyclical for The Federalist:

While I don’t doubt for a moment that Pope Francis sincerely wants to help the poor, I think it would be difficult for even the most erudite Catholic scholars to find a coherent message in a passage like this.

For example, he praises business as a “noble vocation” while summarily disparaging “economies of scale.” While he recognizes that poor people need to be connected to the larger economy to rise out of poverty, he also encourages “civil authorities” to constrain those in the larger economy who actually have the capital to invest in new enterprises.

This vacillation between upholding the merits of enterprise and disparaging profits runs throughout the encyclical. If I could sum up his view on commerce in one sentence it would be this: Business is okay, as long as you don’t make too much money.

Read the entire post “Pope Francis’ Incoherent Economics” here at The Federalist.

Acton Institute Co-Founder and President Rev. Robert A. Sirico made an appearance on America’s News Headquarters on Fox News Channel this afternoon to discuss the impact of Pope Francis’ new encyclical, and to share his thoughts as part of the discussion the Pope has called upon us all to participate in on the state of the environment. You can view his Father’s Day appearance using the video player below.

Jordan Ballor, editor of the Journal of Markets and Morality, joined host Austin Hill on Faith Radio’s Austin Hill in the Morning show on Friday morning to discuss Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Laudato Si’, and its impact in the broader Christian world beyond the Roman Catholic Church. You can listen to the interview via the audio player below.

pope plantToday’s Washington Examiner has a piece that says “conservatives” are slamming Laudato Si’, the new papal encyclical released yesterday. “Slam” may be too strong a word; though there is plenty of vigorous discussion regarding the encyclical.

Acton’s director of research Samuel Gregg is quoted in the Washington Examiner piece, and while he is clearly concerned about portions of the encyclical, he does not “slam” this work either.

It tends to characterize free markets as unregulated, which is simply untrue. It also seems to blame markets for so many social ills which may perhaps in the case of developing countries reflect that they don’t have free markets,” Samuel Gregg … told the Washington Examiner.

Gregg said some of the rebukes of the free market system stem from the pope’s Argentine upbringing. He noted the government and religion are more intertwined in Latin America, where states often operate robust social spending programs with an eye toward alleviating poverty. Detractors of such policies have noted the systems prevent foreign investment and trade while awarding handouts to cement political patronage.

The entire piece is available here.

glass ballWho could have predicted, six months ago, what the encyclical Laudato Si’, would hold in store? Seems like Jennifer Roback Morse could.

In a January 2015 piece for The Daily Caller, Morse made some predictions that turned out to be spot on.

 I do not know what he is going to say. Neither, dear reader, does anyone else you are likely to read. However, I can tell you two things that he will certainly not say. And those two unsaid things have the potential to speak volumes, if only we will listen.

  1. He will certainly not say that overpopulation is the cause of any environmental problem. This old trope will be completely absent from the Holy Father’s document.

  2. He will certainly not say that contraception, abortion or sterilization, voluntary or involuntary, are necessary components of any comprehensive solutions to environmental problems.