Posts tagged with: catholic church

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
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Makers FrontIn this week’s Acton Commentary I examine the foundations of what is today identified as the “preferential option for the poor” in writings that appeared 125 years ago, Pope Leo’s Rerum Novarum and Abraham Kuyper’s “The Social Question and the Christian Religion.” These two texts have appeared in an anniversary volume, Makers of Modern Christian Social Thought: Leo XIII and Abraham Kuyper on the Social Question, now available from the Acton Book Shop.

In the introduction to that volume, I touch on important themes that arise from these foundational texts, such as subsidiarity, solidarity, sphere sovereignty, stewardship, and property. In today’s essay, “The Christian Preference for the Poor,” I examine another theme that runs throughout both texts: the overt concern for the marginalized that is required within the context of any social order.

As Leo and Kuyper both observe, the wealthy, the well-connected, and the powerful can fare well under any regime. They can help to shape or reform laws and policies in their favor. But the poor and the marginalized have little influence and are least able to draw on their own reserves, whether capital or otherwise, in times of need.
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Sandro Magister, Vatican correspondent for L’Espresso, notes in his Italian blog a recent TV program that “fact checks” the pope’s economics.

Here’s a translation of the blog post:

In his speeches Pope Francis often puts forth original theories of dubious foundations but that, for him, are of unshakable certainty and explain everything.

Take, for example, this from an interview a few days ago with the Belgian Catholic weekly “Tertio”:

“There is an economic theory that I have not verified, but I read in several books: that in human history, when a State could see that its accounts were not in good shape, waged war to balance its budget. That is to say, [war] is one of the easiest ways to create wealth.”

Or another theory in which the pope explains that the growth of poverty and inequality along with the advance of progress, made yet again in his November 13 homily in the Mass for the Jubilee of the socially excluded:

“This is the origin of the tragic contradiction of our age: as progress and new possibilities increase, which is a good thing, fewer and fewer people are able to benefit from them.”

Curiously, though, a few days ago, on December 8, during the first episode of a new RAI 2 program, this mantra of Pope Francis was gently but surely demolished. (more…)

Makers Front Cover 10_19_16This year marks the 125th anniversary of two key documents in the development of modern Christian social thought: the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII and the speech “The Social Question and the Christian Religion” by Abraham Kuyper. To mark this anniversary and to commend these works to readers today, Acton Institute has recently released Makers of Modern Christian Social Thought: Leo XIII and Abraham Kuyper on the Social Question.

This volume consists of the texts of these two key sources, along with an introduction that provides some background on the social question in the nineteenth century as well as the thematic similarities and convergences between the two works. There is also some additional bibliography for further reading and research, making this volume an ideal resource for students and others interested exploring the foundations of modern Christian social thought in Roman Catholic and Reformed traditions.

One of the essential features of this edition is its inclusion of the full text of Kuyper’s published speech, complete with its extensive reference apparatus. Earlier editions have appeared in English and have served well to make Kuyper’s insights accessible and readable. These earlier versions sometimes omitted or elided Kuyper’s notes, however, which can obscure the depth and detail of Kuyper’s insights and his engagement with the literature of his time.
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Samuel Gregg, director of research at Acton Institute, was recently interviewed by Carl E. Olson of Catholic World Report about his new book For God and Profit.  Gregg is a frequent contributor to CWR on the topics of political economy, economic history, ethics in finance, and natural law theory.

The first question asked of Gregg was “Is it fair to say that Church teaching about money and economics is widely misunderstood and often misrepresented? If so, what are some of the reasons?” His response:

Catholic social teaching outlines clear principles for people who want to addresses issues surrounding finance and economic life in a way that takes human flourishing seriously. These include the principles of the dignity of the person, solidarity, subsidiarity, the preferential option for the poor, the principle of common use, the principal of private property, to name just a few. These principles are drawn from Revelation and the natural law. But they are not well understood by some Catholics. One reason for this is that they tend to be buried—including, I must say, in the social encyclicals—amidst a range of historically-contingent reflections and the offering of prudential judgements on present-day affairs.

The English language version of Rerum Novarum (1891) is about 14,000 words. Laudato Si’ (2015) is approximately 40,000 words. More than one person has suggested that this partly reflects the magisterium entering into the details of far too many economic subjects, the vast majority of which Catholics are free to disagree about among themselves. If we’re interested in equipping lay Catholics to think through economic issues, more time should be invested in explaining principles of Catholic social teaching and how they relate to each other. Less time, I’d argue, should be spent addressing questions upon which Catholics may legitimately hold a variety, even sometimes quite different views.

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Blog author: KHanby
Friday, September 9, 2016
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Sistine Hall.

The finances of the Catholic Church, and more specifically of the Vatican, are quite the mess. When Pope Francis was elected, he recognized this problem and appointed Australian Cardinal George Pell as the inaugural Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy.  Cardinal Pell was given the authority and the task to clean up the finances of the Vatican, something that has been an issue since the mid-1970s.  But now reports are surfacing that Pell is losing his authority to make any moves toward resolving this problem.  Samuel Gregg recently wrote a piece for The Stream explaining what is at stake if the Vatican fails to fix its financial problems.  Gregg starts out by making the claim that this could really hurt the Pope’s image:

Whatever the cause, any serious obstruction or even termination of Pell’s efforts to make all the Vatican’s institutions fully financially transparent and subject to modern auditing requirements surely would be judged as a major failure of this papacy. Moreover, given the amount of time and words Pope Francis spends denouncing what he regards as various economic and financial injustices, that rhetoric will seem somewhat hollow if there’s any perception he couldn’t get his own house in order.

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Pope John Paul II on a trip to Germany in 1980. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Pope John Paul II on a trip to Germany in 1980. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

This week, the Catholic Church celebrates World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. Fittingly, Pope St. John Paul II was chosen as one of the patron saints of the week, both as a figure who fits into the theme of the Year of Mercy and as a beloved Polish Saint who once served as the Archbishop of Krakow.

John Paul II has a central place not only in the history and tradition of the Catholic Church, but also in world history as one of the driving forces behind the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent fall of several totalitarian regimes around the globe. He was a voice for truth at a time when many people, including Christians, had resigned themselves to the idea that the Cold War tension and oppressive regimes were too formidable an obstacle for the world to overcome. (more…)

Photo courtesy of Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Photo courtesy of Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan sat down with NPR to discuss, among other things, poverty. As the highest ranking member of the House, Ryan has a crucial opportunity to change the way the government addresses poverty. In his plans to confront this issue, Ryan keeps community efforts and local solutions central.

During the last four years, Ryan made visits to several poverty-stricken areas with community organizer Bob Woodson in order to better understand the challenges these struggling communities face. Through these visits, Ryan recognized the influence of community groups and the importance of supporting the efforts of those who have found and are implementing effective local programs. (more…)