Father Peter Preble, pastor of St. Michael Orthodox Church, and Stephen Kokx, adjunct professor of political science and RenewAmerica.com columnist, both recently reviewed Rev. Robert Sirico’s new book Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy.
In the final installment of a three-part interview with Patheos, Joseph E. Gorra interviews Acton Institute president and co-founder Rev. Robert Sirico about social justice and his interpretation of its right societal implementation. In the interview, Sirico outlines some of the principles highlighted in his new book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy. To begin, Gorra asks Sirico about the proper interaction between politics, specifically economics, and religion. What follows is an intriguing discussion on faith-based activism and the origins of the term “social justice”:
Gorra: You are making some important distinctions here, which perhaps also have some cash-value when discussing ‘social justice.’ For it is often conceptualized with wealth distributionist and equalitarian notions. Why is that a mistake, and is there an older (pre-Rawlsian), more robust concept of social justice that can be recovered?
Sirico: The term “social justice” originates with 19th-century Italian Catholic thinkers who were trying to apply the Church’s teaching on the nature of justice and the common good to the post-Enlightenment, post-mercantilist world. In many ways, it is a synonym for “the common good,” which are the conditions that must exist in a given society if people are to be able to freely pursue human flourishing. In that sense, it is not value-neutral—as Rawls more-or-less tries to be—nor can it be reduced to efforts to equalize everything by eliminating differences or vast exercises in wealth-redistribution. Indeed, if you read some of the Italian writers on this subject—Blessed Antonio Rosmini being a good example—you discover that one of the things which they were trying to do was to remind individuals and communities that they also have responsibilities to their neighbor, and that they cannot and should not expect the state to do everything in this regard.
The “social” of social justice did not translate for them into a vast impersonal welfare state; rather, it was primarily about people fulfilling their responsibilities in justice to their neighbor in the circumstances they found themselves, with the state playing a subsidiary role.
Read “What if ‘Social Justice’ Demands Small Government?: Interview with Robert Sirico, Part 3″ on the Patheos Evangelical Channel. Part one: “Is Capitalism Immoral” and part two: “Does Capitalism Promote Greed” are also available online.
David Harsanyi of Human Events has shared a couple of videos of Rev. Robert Sirico discussing “Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand, Jane Fonda, Obamacare and the — sometimes unseen — morality of free markets.” He also touches on the core principles of his new book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy.
Acton Institute president and co-founder Rev. Robert Sirico’s Research on Religion podcast went live today. In it, Rev. Sirico sits down with host Tony Gill to discuss his new book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for Capitalism, and a range of other topics, including the morality of capitalism, faith-based initiatives, and Austrian economics. The podcast is available to listen to or download online and regularly offers fresh perspective on relevant topics. Today’s is no exception. Check it out.
Acton Institute has crafted a website for Rev. Robert Sirico’s new book, Defending the Free Market. With this you can give the defendingthefreemarket.com web address to your friends for an easy-to-remember access point to the book. Other notable things about the site include:
- Free introduction chapter to Defending the Free Market.
- List of press mentions for the book from the Acton PowerBlog
- A video message from Rev. Robert Sirico
What are you waiting for? Find out more about Defending the Free Market at defendingthefreemarket.com.
RJ Moeller of “Values and Capitalism,” an American Enterprise Institute initiative, recently hosted two Acton Institute staffers on his podcast, The RJ Moeller Show. First, president and co-founder kicks off the segment with a self-introduction and a discussion of his new book Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy. Later, Acton Research Fellow Jordan Ballor closes out the segment with a testimony to his own work and that of the Acton Institute. The segment can be heard in the player below:
Acton Institute president and co-founder Rev. Robert Sirico is slated to appear on Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” today at 4:30 p.m. (EST). Be sure to tune in for Rev. Sirico’s perspective on his recently published book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, and other relevant happenings of the day.
Acton Institute president and co-founder Rev. Robert Sirico’s appearance on public television’s “The World Show” with Robert Scully is set to air on various PBS outlets on May 31st. Check your local listings for further information. In the meantime, keep following the PowerBlog for clips and video surrounding the Defending the Free Market book release.
Order Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy here.
On his Koinonia blog, Rev. Gregory Jensen reviews Rev. Robert Sirico’s new book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy.
“Daring though the argument is, especially for a Catholic priest, it is also essential that it be made since for too many people (including business people), free market economic theory and policies are little more than a justification for greed. While not denying the excesses of capitalism and real sins of capitalists, Fr Sirico wisely doesn’t allow sin to have the last word. Rather, and like St Augustine who inspired his own spiritual journey, the helps us see the goodness hidden beneath the distorting effects of moral failure.
Though irenic in tone, Sirico is unwilling to cede ground to those who imagine—wrongly in his view—that “socialism, liberalism, collectivism, and central planning” (p. 185) are morally superior and more effective in generating wealth. They aren’t and however noble the intention they are come up morally and practically short because they neither anthropological sound nor effective in caring for the material needs of the human person. The latter is especially the case when we turn to the needs of the most vulnerable among us. It is the free market that best fits the truth of the human person. And it is only the free market that has demonstrated the ability not only to lift the human person out of the poverty that was the almost universal lot of humanity even as late as 200 years ago.”
Read “More than Mere Economics” here.