Category: Vatican

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.

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laudato_siSamuel Gregg, Acton’s director of research, writes in The American Spectator today about Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical which addresses environmental issues. Gregg says that part of the encyclical’s intent is to add to the global discussion regarding the environment and to the climate change debate. However, Gregg believes that the encyclical, rather than enlightening, is muddying the waters.

To be sure, there is much about today’s global economy that merits criticism. The encyclical rightly underscores the problem of bailing out banks at everyone else’s expense (189). Does anyone doubt that, if the world faces another series of major bank failures, governments will behave in exactly the same way, thereby reinforcing the moral hazard problem that’s at the root of so much of the financial sector’s on-going dysfunctionality? The encyclical also suggests, correctly, that despite the events of 2008, there has been a major failure to reform the world’s financial systems (189). Likewise the pope’s tough words for those who regard population growth as somehow damaging the environment and impeding economic development are spot-on (50).

Nonetheless, many conceptual problems and questionable empirical claims characterize the encyclical’s vision of contemporary economic life. In terms of environmental degradation, Laudato Si’ appears oblivious to the fact that the twentieth century’s worst economically driven pollution occurred as a result of centrally-planned state-industrialization schemes in former Communist nations. Anyone who’s visited Eastern Europe or the former USSR and witnessed the often-devastated landscape will quickly attest to the validity of that insight.

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Laudato si coverPope Francis has released his eagerly anticipated encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’. While the document deserves a close reading, it’s extreme length (80 pages/45,000 words) will make it difficult for many people to process. To help highlight some of the key points I’ve produced a section-by-section summary of the entire encyclical.

As with any summary, much of the meaning and context will be lost. But I hope this will provide you with a starting point for greater engagement with the latest edition to the social teachings of the Catholic Church.

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chesterton-pope-francis-enclycialPope Francis’ new encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, is generating discussion across the web. For a round-up of responses and reactions from Acton, see Acton Speaks on the Environment.

There’s plenty left to explore, respond, and reflect on, but in the meantime, it’s worth noting an interesting parallel with another great Catholic thinker (as passed along by a friend of mine).

The beginning of the environmental encyclical leads off with the following statement about Earth being our “sister”:

LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.  This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.

These references to “sister earth” are sprinkled throughout the encyclical, and it’s metaphor that’s been used before by G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy: (more…)

Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, spoke with Business Spectator about the economic message of the new encyclical:

When you read through the text, you find the free market, and finance in particular, is identified more or less as responsible for many environmental problems, Dr Gregg said.  It’s almost a subterranean theme of the encyclical …In many respects it’s a caricature of market economies.

Read more at “Pope Delivers Strong Message on Climate Change.” from Business Spectator.