Posts tagged with: Pope Francis

Alessandro Manzoni

Alessandro Manzoni

Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist, is best known for his book The Betrothed.  Rev. Robert Sirico, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute, recently wrote an article for Crisis Magazine praising Manzoni and discussing some of the economic themes found in The Betrothed.  Pope Francis is also a fan of the Italian writer.  In his article, Rev. Sirico draws a connection between a sensible tradition of Catholic thought on economics and a work of literature that Pope Francis deems credible.

Sirico starts out by offering an introduction to The Betrothed:

The Betrothed is, as its title implies, an epic love story that traces the circumlocutions of the engagement of Lorenzo Tramaglino to Lucia Mondella across the magnificently described countryside of Italian Lake District and Milan. Though written in the early nineteenth century, the action of the novel takes place in the midst of the seventeenth century and depicts historical events and personages. It is no spoiler to say, and you will be relieved to know, that the boy gets the girl in the end and eventually marry. But it is what happens along that way that makes The Betrothed so engaging and instructive.

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Blog author: KHanby
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
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Pope Francis visits congressSince 2013 when the Argentine prelate Jorge Bergoglio officially became the head of the Catholic Church, he has emerged as a key figure in the progressive movement.  Even though Pope Francis does not claim to be a part of any political movement, it is clear that he is representative of the views that many leftists hold.  With his emergence has come much criticism from Catholics who hold opposing views on issues such as environmentalism and the market economy. Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg has penned op-eds and blog posts for a number of publications that take Francis to task on his economic pronouncements and even the way he presents the Catholic faith.

This past week in the Wall Street Journal Francis X. Rocca described how Pope Francis became so popular among progressives in a piece titled “How Pope Francis Became the Leader of the Global Left.”  He describes Francis’ influence on different grass root activists and even the time when Sen. Bernie Sanders — a self-described socialist — left the campaign trail to visit the Vatican for a meeting with Francis. Toward the end of his article Rocca quotes Gregg:

Critics warn that, by aligning himself too closely with one end of the political spectrum, the pope could alienate more conservative Catholics. In the recent U.S. presidential election, according to exit polls, more than half of Catholic voters chose Mr. Trump. “The global left clearly see an opportunity to appropriate the prestige of the papacy for their causes,” said Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, a Michigan-based think tank with a religious, free-market approach. “That introduces polarization in the church about issues that Catholics are free to disagree about.”

You can read the full article where Gregg is quoted here in the Wall Street Journal.

Pope Francis celebrates his 80th birthday

Pope Francis celebrates his 80th birthday

This past Saturday, Pope Francis celebrated his 80th birthday and in an opinion piece for The Detroit News on the same day Acton Director of Research Samuel Gregg expressed his primary criticism of the Holy Father.   Gregg thinks that “rather than presenting the Catholic faith in all its fullness as the source of truth and true happiness, he focuses almost exclusively on the theme of mercy.”  Gregg explains himself:

Mercy is certainly central to the Christian Gospel. As a priest once said to me, “When I die and go before Christ to be judged, I’ll be pleading for his mercy — not justice.” The same goes for me. We’re all, without exception, sinners.

Nonetheless, the word truth — which appears countless times in the Scriptures — doesn’t feature heavily in Francis’ lexicon. Sometimes he even seems to present truth and mercy as opposites. Mercy, it appears, trumps everything else. Conversely, if you express a concern for truth, you’re basically labeled a modern-day Pharisee.

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Yesterday, Pope Francis hosted a private audience in his Apostolic Palace for a few hundred international entrepreneurs and business leaders. The members of the International Christian Union of Business Executives (UNIAPAC) had gathered inside the Vatican’s walls for two days of meetings for the “noble purpose of reflecting on the role of business persons as agents of economic and social inclusion.”

Pope Francis, not always an affirming supporter of free market capitalism, focused on some of his usual challenging caveats to business persons. While business is certainly noble and its success is a vital part of the promoting economic growth for the common good, fallen man should nevertheless be constantly wary of his weaknesses for material idolatry (especially money), selfishness (not showing solidarity), and unguarded concern for acts of corruption (intentional deceit), the latter of which Francis said was “the worst of social plagues.”

This holds true for “all human activity”, the pope reassured those present, and not just business activity. It is an anthropological-spiritual discipline that we must keep on the forefront of our daily decision making. In this way, we sharpen our prudence and hone our focus when treading uphill individual paths to holiness and salvation. By way of constant prayer and deep spiritual discernment, man can more likely make the best moral choices, even in the most cut-throat and difficult business situations.

But sometimes this is risky for the seeker and promoter of virtue.

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Pope Francis addresses UNIAPAC Christian entrepreneurs and business executives at a private audience on November 17, 2016.

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The following article is the Acton Institute’s English translation from the Italian “Il Papa e la condanna dei soldi. Parla Padre Robert Sirico” written by  Matteo Matzuzzi and published in the Rome-based daily Il Foglio on November 8.  Readers should note that there is no official English translation of Pope Francis’ November 5 address to leaders of lay movements gathering inside the Vatican. The original speech in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese can be found here.


“It certainly would be absurd to criminalize money if one’s sincere concern is the well-being of the poor. Lamenting the struggle of the poor is not the end goal of moral compassion. Ameliorating their concern is. And at least at the material level, this requires the production of wealth,” said Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president of the American think tank, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, which aims to promote a free, virtuous and humane society.

Rev. Sirico shared his views with the Italian daily ll Foglio following the Pope’s long speech delivered last Saturday before an audience of charismatic lay movement leaders who had come to the Vatican for their third world gathering. During the audience, Pope Francis relaunched his accusation that money is “an idol that rules instead of serves, which tyrannizes and terrorizes humanity.”

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Pope Francis regularly speaks to leaders of cultural and social change during specially arranged private audiences inside the Vatican.

It is money, continued the Holy Father, “that rules with the whip of fear, inequality, economic, social, cultural and military violence. [It] generates ever more violence in a seemingly unending downward spiral. There is a basic [form of] terrorism stemming from the global control of money on earth and which threatens all of humanity.”

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Did Pope Francis just publicly endorse Communism? Recent comments have prompted many to suggest he has. During an interview with Eugenio Scalfari, they had the following exchange:

[Scalfari:] You told me some time ago that the precept, “Love your neighbour as thyself” had to change, given the dark times that we are going through, and become “more than thyself.” So you yearn for a society where equality dominates. This, as you know, is the programme of Marxist socialism and then of communism. Are you therefore thinking of a Marxist type of society?
[Francis:] “It it has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom” (emphasis added)

Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, suggests that there’s something else going on. In a recent article for The Stream, he begins: “Marxists, Marxist ideas and Marxist regimes have brought death and destruction to millions. Yet according to Pope Francis, “if anything, the communists think like Christians.” What’s going on here?” He goes on to note that though some have accused the Pope of “Marxist sympathies,” that is simply not true: (more…)

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Pope Francis meets students from Jesuit schools at an audience in the Paul VI Hall.

We all (probably) want to reduce poverty, but how do we actually go about doing that? Pope Francis has been extremely vocal about this problem, but many have taken issue with his suggested solutions.When describing modern capitalism, he’s used phrases like “globalización de la indiferencia” and “cultura del descarte” or a globalization of indifference and a throwaway culture. Beyond soundbites and one-liners, many are trying to get at the exact meaning of the Pope’s statements on economics and poverty.

During a recent trip to Buenos Aires, Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, spoke to La Nacion’s Ramiro Pellet Lastra about these issues. Gregg states that the Pope’s very populist language when discussing economics and poverty suggests that he does not appear to have a clear understanding of how markets actually function. Like Pope Francis, Gregg sees the common good as very important but argues that this is compatible with free markets. In fact when you dispense with free markets and economic freedom in the name of the common good, as did Communist systems, it leads to even greater poverty. (more…)