Kishore Jayabalan, Director of Istituto Acton in Rome, was tapped by BBC World News last week for his analysis of the meeting between Pope Francis and President Obama at the Vatican. We’ve got the video, and you can watch it below.
Last week was a busy news week for the Vatican: the release of Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, and the announcement that two former popes, John XXIII and John Paul II, will be canonized. Almost overshadowed is the story of another remarkable leader, Cardinal Văn Thuận and the cause for his beatification. (Beatification is the first step in declaring a person a saint, and allows for public veneration.)
Cardinal Văn Thuận spent 13 years in prison as a political prisoner in Vietnam, shortly after being named coadjutor archbishop of Saigon. The North Vietnamese army invaded Saigon, and the archbishop was sent to a “re-education camp”, where he endured 9 years of solitary confinement. It would seem to be a situation where one would lose hope. (more…)
We’re continuing to round up clips of Acton involvement in the media coverage of the recent papal conclave and the election of Pope Francis, and today we present two clips from across the pond that our American readers likely haven’t seen yet. First up, Istituto Acton’s Kishore Jayabalan joins Father Thomas Reese, former editor of America magazine and current fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, DC, to discuss the conclave process as it progressed; the interview took place prior to the election of Pope Francis on March 13th.
Acton President Rev. Robert A. Sirico also made an appearance on the BBC, providing analysis for GMT with George Alagiah on March 14 following the election of Francis.
This week, Istituto Acton Director Kishore Jayabalan joined Al Kresta of Ave Maria Radio to discuss the historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. The special broadcast featured Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., founder of Ignatius Press, who did his doctoral dissertation under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
Click on the audio link below to listen.
Kishore Jayabalan, Director of Istituto Acton in Rome, gave an interview today with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty regarding the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. While the pope cited his health as the reason he was stepping down, Jayabalan was asked if there were other contributing factors.
He does also talk about the pace of global media and politics and events today. So it’s also the circumstances that are surrounding his age and ill-health. I believe what he says, that the pace of the job and the pace of today’s modern-society communications make it very difficult for somebody who is not fully fit and fully capable of dealing with these fast changes. He feels like he has been left behind in some way, that he can’t effectively lead the church, and that there are probably many other cardinals out there, potential popes, who could do a better job.
Jayabalan believes Pope Benedict may return to his native Germany to write at the end of his papacy.
In Utopia, many modern intellectuals say Sir Thomas More advocates an ideal political and social order without private property, competition, citizens quarreling over worldly possessions, poverty and other “evils” supposedly brought on by a market-based society.
At least that is the way social liberals, including left-leaning Christians, tend to interpret this great saint’s 1516 literary masterpiece, believing the English Catholic statesman’s work presents his vision of an ideal Christian commonwealth modeled on the early Church (even if those proto-communist experiments failed).
Recently, Istituto Acton (Acton’s office in Rome) hosted an illuminating seminar led by the medievalist scholar, Dr. John Boyle, whose April 23 presentation Why Thomas More’s Utopia is not a Communist Manifesto addressed some of the common misconceptions of More’s political fiction.
Dr. Boyle is director of the Graduate Program in Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and is currently finishing a semester teaching at the University’s Rome campus. He is also a former professor of mine from my glory days at the St. Ignatius Institute of the University of San Francisco in the late 80s. We welcomed him to lead our monthly “Campus Martius” seminar – organized for English-speaking students of the pontifical universities.
Dr. Boyle began the seminar by putting Thomas More’s Utopia in its proper place as a work of intellectual sarcasm.
The entire work, Boyle said, does not represent a paradise-on-earth scenario the English political genius and martyr actively searched for.
Indeed, Boyle explained that Utopia was so cleverly crafted in the Latin language that even erudite Renaissance humanists – the audience to whom More addressed the great social-political questions of his time –might not have understood the subtle brunt of his irony: “Utopia is certainly a puzzling work, which puzzled even More’s contemporaries. Indeed, Utopia is a work of stunning complexity and sophistication, written especially for More’s renaissance contemporaries,” Boyle said.
The seminar was attended by Zenit’s Rome correspondent, Ann Schneibel, who published a follow-up interview with Dr. Boyle yesterday.
While remarking on some of the main communist values playfully envisioned in Utopia (e.g. command and control economies, regulated lifestyles and fashion, shared gardens and housing for family communes, absence of private property, eradication of human envy, etc), Boyle told Zenit:
The political order is not the source of our happiness. This is a theological point, but it’s very dear to More’s heart. The political order can serve to help order men to their happiness, but it cannot achieve it. This is a matter of Church, of the City ofGod. Political order can more or less help, but it can’t achieve what I think, in the modern sense, is the Utopian dream.
“Utopia is a very cautionary tale. I’d say it’s relevant in all kinds of ways, as well as reminding us of humorous good things,” Boyle said.
During the seminar Dr. Boyle explained that More’s life-long friend Erasmus of Rotterdam, the great Dutch humanist and Catholic priest who arranged for the publication of Utopia, wrote to his colleagues in private letters that if they really wanted a good laugh they had better read More’s book about the fictitious island.
“Some of the names [of places] used in Utopia are famously indicative of this [humor]…Utopia is a Greek neologism for ‘nowhere’, the principal city of the island is Amaurot, which means “foggy or phantom”, the principal river…is the Anider, which is Greek for ‘waterless,’ and the man who tells the story of Utopia, Raphael Hythloday, [his surname] is probably best translated as ‘peddler of nonsense’.
To read the rest of Dr. Boyle’s Zenit interview, go here. For your pleasure, you can listen to the entire April 23 Campus Martius seminar below.
I cannot permit the death of His Imperial and Royal Highness Otto von Habsburg at age 98 on July 4th to pass unnoticed. To look into his face was to gaze into the map of the 20th Century, and to hear him recount his ideas, insights and encounters was worth more than an entire course in European history in most universities.
Only slightly acquainted with the man (his father Emperor Karl was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004), I was struck not merely by his exhaustive knowledge of history, economics, culture, and languages (with whom else does one begin the conversation by being asked, “And in what language shall we converse?”); what is now most memorable about the man was his modesty and clear Christian faith, so apparent to anyone who views the video clip here.
The occasion for the speech was a Rome conference sponsored by Acton Institute and Istituto Acton on the topic of “Centesimus Annus and Deus Caritas Est” held at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Joining the Archduke and myself on the panel were papal biographer George Weigel and the French economist Jean Yves Naudet.
Otto von Habsburg’s lively presentation represents the best of Catholic “liberal’ thinking, integrating a sound economic sensibility with a clear moral commitment.
When von Habsburg’s mother Zita died in 1989 her body was brought in state to the Imperial crypt of the Habsburg dynasty at the Capuchin Church in Vienna. The scene was striking: As the bier waited at the entrance to the church, an attendant with staff in hand knocked at the door. From inside a friar, holding a large candle, asked who was seeking entrance. The attendant replied that it was Her Imperial Highness Zita Maria. The simple friar replied, “We do not know her.” The attendant knocked once again, and was again asked who seeks entrance. This time he replied, “Zita, a poor sinner,” at which reply the friar welcomed her into the church.
For all that Otto von Habsburg saw in his long and fruitful life the one and only thing that he, and we, can bring with us into eternity, is the plea for mercy at the feet of a merciful God.
Anima eius et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per Dei misericordiam requiescant in pace.