Posts tagged with: Pope Leo XIII

Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg is in Rome this week for Acton’s conference on the 125th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s ground-breaking encyclical Rerum NovarumThe conference – titled Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time – takes place on April 20th from 2-7:30 pm at the Roma-Trevi-Conference Center in Rome, Italy.

Sam sat down for an in-depth interview with Vatican Radio about the encyclical and the conference, noting that “there are many things about Rerum novarum that are timeless, partly because the encyclical draws very specifically on natural law [and] Thomistic thought, when it discusses things like, for example, its defense – its very rigorous defense – of private property, but also its very strong critique of socialism.”

For more information on the conference, visit; you can follow the conference as it happens on twitter using #125onFreedom.


b-sandersWith the New York presidential primary only a few days away, most candidates are canvassing the state to drum up votes. But Bernie Sanders has taken a peculiar detour — to Rome. (Not Rome, NY. The one in Italy.)

Sanders is delivering a 10-minute speech this morning at a Vatican conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s encyclical, Centesimus Annus. Sander’s will be speaking on economy and social justice.

In The Detroit News, Acton’s research director Samuel Gregg considers what Bernie might learn at the Vatican:

Blog author: etrancik
Friday, April 15, 2016

pope-415This year marks the 125th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum and the beginning of the modern Catholic social encyclical tradition. In this landmark text, Leo courageously set out to examine the “new things” of his time, especially the changes associated with the Industrial Revolution. These included the emergence of an urbanized working class, the breakdown of old social hierarchies, and the rise of capitalism as well as ideologies such as socialism, liberalism, communism, and corporatism.

On April 20, 2016, Acton Institute is holding a free conference in Rome exploring similar themes. This conference on Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time will take place in Rome, Italy from 14:00-19:30 (GMT +2) at the Centro Congressi Roma Eventi – Fontana di Trevi. Remote participation is also possible through the online Live Broadcast. Among the speakers will be Rev. Prof. Wojciech Giertych, OP, Professor and Theologian of the Papal Household. For more information about this event or to register, visit

Acton Institute’s director of research, Dr. Samuel Gregg, recently authored an article in Crisis Magazine which highlighted the radical character of Leo XIII’s attempt to engage the modern economic world:

Blog author: jballor
Thursday, March 12, 2015

Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. First Things, whose first publisher Richard John Neuhaus was a founding ECT member, is hosting a variety of reflections on ECT’s two decades, and in its latest issue published a new ECT statement, “The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage.”

Abraham KuyperThe first ECT statement was put out in 1994. But as recalled by Charles W. Colson, another founding member of ECT, the foundations of evangelical and Roman Catholic dialogue go back much further. The Dutch Reformed theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) was a major influence on the thinking of Colson, and as Colson argues, “Evangelicals and Catholics Together, which created such controversy, was launched actually by Kuyper a century ago. It is not new.”

Colson made this bold claim in a speech in 1998, at a conference at Calvin College (co-sponsored by the Acton Institute), on the legacies of two great modern representatives of these traditions, Kuyper and Leo XIII.

The Calvinist International recently interviewed Allan Carlson, author of Third Ways: How Bulgarian Greens, Swedish Housewives, and Beer-Swilling Englishmen Created Family-Centered Economies – And Why They Disappeared

Could you tell us a bit about your view of how the Dutch polymath Abraham Kuyper influences your project?

I came across Abraham Kuyper fairly late, but was delighted to discover such a strong communitarianism within the modern Reformed/Calvinist tradition. Calvinism has too often been associated, of late, with individualism, modernism, and capitalism. Such “isms” certainly do not fit Calvin’s Geneva nor 17th Century Puritan Massachusetts. Kuyper’s warnings about “the power of capital” and the ways in which Commercialism undermines family bonds translate the authentic Calvinist socio-political heritage into modern circumstances. I also love the name of his political association: The Anti-Revolutionary Party. It drives home the point that all Christians—not just Roman Catholics—were threatened by the Jacobins of 1789.

Anthony Esolen, in an on-going series in Crisis Magazine, ponders Catholic Social Teaching, as presented by Pope Leo XIII. Esolen says that Pope Leo’s rich view of humanity arms us today in not only promoting the free market, but in combating the meager thoughts proposed by socialism and liberalism.

How does Leo XIII do this? By truly understanding the human person.

Human beings are embodied rational souls, and everything they touch they mark with the fire of their spirit, the gift of God.  That is the ground of their right to property.  But they are not solitary atoms either, rebounding against one another in a chaotic war of all against all.  For the human soul is made for love, and can only attain its end by communion with other souls.  Therefore, long before we meet the State, we find human beings fashioning not artificial but real bodies in turn: families and clans and villages. It is absolutely crucial to understand this.

Catholic Social Teaching affirms the reality of the bodies that human beings form; they are not notional, but real and living, and they imply real rights and duties among the members, who are themselves not mere parts, but whole persons.  [emphasis original]


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