Category: Vatican

Acton University 2015 is about to get underway at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and our friend Al Kresta has already taken up residence on the gallery overlook level for his week of Kresta in the Afternoon remote broadcasts. His first guest from Acton University was our own Kishore Jayabalan, director of Istituto Acton in Rome, who sat down for a twenty minute discussion of Pope Francis, Laudeto Si, and the compatibility of capitalism with Christianity. The full interview is available via the audio player below.

pope-francis-0616Since Pope Francis will be addressing climate change later this week the Pew Research Center has released a survey showing what American Catholics think about both the pontiff and global warming.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that global warming is a “highly politicized issue that sharply divides American Catholics, like the U.S. public as a whole, mainly along political party lines.”

About seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics (71 percent) believe the planet is getting warmer, and nearly half (47 percent) attribute it to human causes. A similar share (48 percent) consider global warming to be a very serious problem.

Catholic Democrats are much more likely (85 percent) to say there is solid evidence that Earth is warming, compared with just half of Catholic Republicans (51 percent). And while six-in-ten Catholic Democrats say global warming is a man-made phenomenon and that it poses a very serious problem, only about a quarter of Catholic Republicans agree.

Michael Matheson Miller, Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute:

“Pope Francis has spoken consistently about the need to end exclusion for the world’s poor.  Since the environmental movement often neglects the challenges of the poor, it will be interesting to see how the encyclical addresses the call to environmental stewardship in the context of poverty and economic development. “

Kishore Jayabalan, Director of Istituto Acton in Rome:

“The fact that this draft has been leaked well in advance of the encyclical’s official release shows the great interest in what Pope Francis has to say about the environment. To be sure, he will frame the issues in Christian terms, as the pope must always do. My concern is that he will blame the market economy for basically all our environmental degradation and neglect the very important role private property and free enterprise have in protecting the environment and allowing people to live freely and responsibly.”

Speaking on The Steve Malzberg Show on Newsmax TV on Friday, Rev. Robert Sirico addressed questions regarding the new papal encyclical, Laudato Si’, which reportedly will be released this week.

Sirico commented on Pope Francis’ tendency to speak “off the cuff,” saying this may be exploited by the press or others who simply want to push their own agenda regarding the environment and climate change. Sirico also expressed trepidation regarding the pontiff’s plan to address a joint session of Congress during his U.S. visit in September.

Had I been asked, and I wasn’t, on whether the Pope should address the joint session of Congress, I would’ve said no,” Sirico said.

Why? Because it lends a whole political atmosphere to whatever he’s going to be saying to the Congress.

There’s no way the Pope is going to come out of that chamber without people putting a political spin on it whether to the right or the left,” Sirico said.

The Pope is visiting us not as the head of Vatican City State, not as a politician, not as a monarch, but as a pastor, as a bishop.”

StFrancis06With the newest papal encyclical due out soon, and with its purported title to be Laudato si’ [Praised Be You] from St. Francis of Assisi’s great prayer, The Canticle of the Sun, Acton’s director of research Samuel Gregg takes a closer look at this saint.

St. Francis of Assisi loved God’s created world; of that there is no doubt. However, is he the patron saint of the eco-warrior crowd? Gregg says there are far too many myths that surround this great servant of God. For instance, many people attribute the Peace Prayer (“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…”) to St. Francis of Assisi. Not true.

It was written by Sebastian Temple, a twentieth century South African born composer. The prayer on which Temple based the hymn can’t be traced further back than a French magazine published in 1912.

The text to which I always turn whenever claims about Francis of Assisi are made is Augustine Thompson O.P’s meticulously researched Francis of Assisi: A New Biography (2012). The real strength of this biography is the way it rigorously analyzes the documentary record and sources and shifts out what is reliable from that which is hearsay and legend.


acton-commentary-blogimage“’Sustainability’ has become big business, especially at universities,” says Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary. “If there ever was an elitist/populist wedge issue, this is it, with Pope Francis and the Holy See on the wrong side of it.”

So what exactly is meant by “sustainability”? The term originates in 1987 with the World Commission on Environment and Development’s report entitled Our Common Future: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sounds reasonable enough, but the concept is so broad as to be meaningless. The 2002 UN Summit on Sustainable Development, which I attended as a delegate of the Holy See, came ten years after the Rio Earth Summit and sought to balance social, economic and environmental concerns. The concept today seems to be about fighting poverty while tackling climate change (as in a “new climate economy”). Once again, who can be against it? And what are we supposed to do about it?

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.