Archived Posts November 2012 - Page 9 of 17 | Acton PowerBlog

Here is the comment posted this this morning on the National Catholic Reporter article titled, “Statement on economy denounced by archbishop fails to pass.”

Full statement follows:

An important clarification.

Archbishop Fiorenza’s assertion that the Acton Institute views Rerum Novarum as “no longer applicable today” is incorrect. The archbishop is most likely basing this claim on a June 2012 America Magazine blog post by Vincent Miller titled, “Sirico Completely Wrong on Church’s Social Teaching.”

See link.

In the post, Miller cites an interview Fr Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute, did with the New York Times on a story about Duquesne University and the attempt by adjunct professors to organize a union there. Miller claimed that Fr Sirico’s comment to the Times was “astounding in its ignorance or mendacious misrepresentation of the basis for the Church’s support for unions.”

To which Fr Sirico replied on the Acton PowerBlog:

“Anytime I can get a progressive/dissenting Catholic magazine/blog like the Jesuit-run America simultaneously to quote papal documents, defend the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, embrace the Natural Law and even yearn for a theological investigation “by those charged with oversight for the Church’s doctrine” of a writer suspected of heresy, I consider that I have had a good day.”

And further on:

Mr. Miller jumps to the conclusion that by saying that Leo’s observations of the circumstances for workers in 1891 were historically contingent, I am somehow arguing that what Leo said has no bearing today. Now, that is a particularly odd reaction because the entire thrust of Leo’s encyclical, beginning with its title, was precisely aimed at looking around at the “new things” (Rerum Novarum) that were emerging in his day, and reflecting upon them in the light of Scripture, Tradition and the Natural Law. If the situation in Pittsburgh and the graduate students teaching part time courses in 2012 is remotely comparable to the subsistence living conditions under which many workers lived in the latter part of the 19th century, this has somehow escaped my notice.

Nonetheless, I am delighted to see Mr. Miller is vigilant about the Church teaching and his citations from magisterial texts; not a single line of any of those cited do I disagree with.

Read the whole thing here.

John Couretas
Communications Director
Acton Institute

Blog author: rjmoeller
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

One night during either my sophomore or junior year of college, while delaying the doing of homework by walking around the upstairs of Taylor University’s library looking for embarrassing books I could hide in friends’ backpacks so the alarm would go off when we walked out together and they’d have to sheepishly present them at the front desk, I stumbled upon a little treatise called The Law by some French dude named Frederic Bastiat I had never heard of.  I checked it out, cautiously put it in my own backpack as I checked for retaliatory plants, and headed back to the dorm for a spirited bout of Mario Kart 64.

Later that same week, while sitting in my “International Business” class (and wishing Jesus would return at that precise moment to end my boredom), I pulled Bastiat out and began reading these opening words . . .

We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life — physical, intellectual, and moral life.

But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course.

Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.

Powerful stuff.  I kept wondering, “Where had such clear-headed rhetoric like this been my entire life?” (more…)

“Forever stamps” are a form of non-denominated postage first introduced in 2006. The U.S. Postal Service recently issued a “Four Flags” version which “continues [the U.S. Postal Service’s] tradition of honoring the Stars and Stripes.” But there seems something peculiar—even a bit ominous—about the new stamps.

Is the USPS trying to send us a message that freedom and liberty in America won’t last forever? Well, probably not. Turns out that when images of postage stamps are printed, a line is drawn through the denomination. So the weird juxtaposition is not a political warning but just another example of the problems that can arise from inflexible bureaucratic rule-following.


I will not indulge in any sort of “what would Dorothy Day do” when it comes to thinking about the current US Catholic Bishops’ Conference taking place in Baltimore.  However, it is interesting to ponder this woman who exemplifies so much of 20th century Catholicism and the bishops’ agenda, especially as the bishops discuss cause for her canonization, while on the same day failing to pass a pastoral message on economics.

Their last pastoral letter on economics was in 1986, “Economic Justice for All”. Certainly, many things have changed since then, but as Dorothy Day knew, “the poor you will always have with you”. Her life tells much of the story of the 20th century: socialism, suffrage, labor unions, a failed live-in relationship and abortion. But it also tells the story of redemption: a love of Christ and His Church, Scripture and prayer, the Rosary and Psalms.

In 1960, Dorothy Day returned money sent to the Catholic Worker house by the city of New York – interest on the house owned by the Catholic Worker Movement. In her letter to the city, she said, “We do not believe in the profit system, and so we cannot take profit or interest on our money. People who take a materialistic view of human service wish to make a profit but we are trying to do our duty by our service without wages to our brothers as Jesus commended in the Gospel (Matthew 25.)”

She was chided for this. Some thought the money should have been kept and used for the poor. A benefactor told Dorothy that it was interest from the benefactor’s estate that was donated; what was wrong with interest? Dorothy acknowledged she was only doing the best she knew how, and that,

[o]f course we are involved, the same as everyone else, in living off interest. We are all caught up in this same money economy. Just as “God writes straight with crooked lines,” so we too waver, struggle on our devious path – always aiming at God, even though we are conditioned by habits and ancestry, etc. We have free will, which is our greatest gift. We are free to choose, and as we see more clearly, our choice is more direct and easier to make. Be we all see through a glass darkly. It would be heaven to see Truth face to face…There is no simple solution. Let the priests and the economists get to work on it. It is a moral and an ethical problem.

Dorothy Day would be the first to say her poverty was voluntary. She did not expect everyone to live as she did. She felt profound allegiance with the poor, and chose the most personal approach of all to serving them: she became one of them, lived with them, ate with them, served them.

“Let the priests and the economists get to work on it.” That sounds like a perfectly reasonable idea, from a perfectly radical follower of Christ.

(image of Dorothy Day: copyright by Vivian Cherry)

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In this entertaining video Walter Williams, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, explains why the free market is morally superior to other economic systems. My favorite part comes near the beginning when Williams explains that money is a form of “certificate of performance” that serves as proof of having served our neighbors.

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Re-elected, Obama takes aim at religious liberty
Timothy P. Carney Washington Examiner

As an old saw has it, “your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.” The Obama administration says your right to live as a Christian ends if you go into business

Religious protections are worth keeping
Melissa Musick Nussbaum, National Catholic Register

Exercise is an interesting word because it presumes action. Religious freedom does not simply mean the freedom to think, a power, one presumes, even the most oppressive regimes cannot hold over their citizens.

The Party of Work
David Brooks, New York Times

They created an American creed, built, as the sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset put it, around liberty, individualism, equal opportunity, populism and laissez-faire.

Russell Kirk on Cultivating the Good Life
Bruce Frohen, The Imaginative Conservative

Kirk knew the value of economic liberty. Living by his wit and wisdom he could support himself only in a free economy.

Registration for 2013 Acton University, scheduled for June 18-21 at the DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., will open Thursday November 15. Stay tuned to Acton’s homepage and the AU website for further news and announcements. If you haven’t had the chance to attend in the past, make this the year you do!