The spring session of the 2016 Acton Lecture Series closed on May 17th with an address by Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico entitled “Freedom Indivisible: Private Property as the Solid Ground for Religious Liberty,” which examined how private property provides an essential foundation for religious liberty in a free and virtuous society. We’re pleased to share the lecture with you via the video player below.
Please enjoy this guest post by Fr. Alejandro Crosthwaite; he reviews Wolfgang Grassl’s Property (Acton Institute, 2012) for the PowerBlog. Fr. Crosthwaite is dean of social sciences at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
Book Review: Property
By Alejandro Crosthwaite
The 2012 monograph entitled “Property” by Prof. Wolfgang Grassl, Full Professor of Business Administration and holder of the Dale and Ruth Michels Endowed Chair in Business at Saint Norbert’s College (De Pere, Wisconsin, USA), and published by the Acton Institute in its Christian Social Thought Series, argues that the Roman Catholic view on property as an institution with a divinely ordained purpose deemphasizes the rights of ownership and emphasizes the duties associated with it. Furthermore, he claims that the rights associated with property may be very different from one another as they touch upon different types of relations with reality. Different categories of property will involve specific duties. Property rights are thus in the Catholic Tradition neither absolute nor uniform nor are their ethical implications. The right to private property, he contends, is closely linked to the duty to contribute to one’s personal flourishing, the well-being of one’s family, and that of the community as a whole. Having control over more property, also involves greater duties toward one’s neighbors: with greater power, more responsibility! (more…)
What is the connection between private property and conscience rights? “If there is no private property,” says Michael Novak in this week’s Acton Commentary, “there is also no independent leg to stand on in speaking for one’s conscience — and not only one’s individual conscience.”
In Poland and elsewhere, religious communities had inspired and led the nations for hundreds of years. In such places, people were not imprisoned solely in their own individual power, which was little. Sometimes they acted through institutions and associations of their own choosing. Solidarity in Poland, for example, or People Against Violence in Slovakia.
Sometimes they acted through associations and institutions they had been born into, and long been become grateful for. They knew by family history the many ways in which these institutions had nourished, taught, and trained them in the habits of conscience, self-government, and personal responsibility. These institutions had for centuries stood outside the passing follies of the age, and had been the people’s source of independence from the self-centered, decadent, and at times even thuggish “wisdom” of their particular generation.
The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.
Grand Rapids, Mich. has 34.6 percent canopy cover according to the Grand Rapids Urban Forest Project website, and has a goal of reaching 40 percent across the entire city. Canopy cover refers to the amount of space covered by the shade of a trees canopy as seen from overhead. If you have ever parked your car in a blacktop lot on a sunny day with no tree cover you can understand the value of shade, but is it worthy of taxpayer dollars and the sacrifice of property rights?
The 2011 Green Grand Rapids amendment to the City’s Master plan established the new goal of 40 percent canopy cover. The city and organizations pushing for the 40 percent canopy goal believe that the community can gain great economic benefit by accomplishing this goal. They claim that the urban forest protects against floods, pollution, and even reduces energy usage through increased shade and cooling. This economic benefit has been calculated with the assistance of I-tree, a program developed by USDA to perform benefit analysis of increasing the urban canopy. Over the last couple of years there have been thousands of trees planted along streets and in public areas through the efforts of these organizations and others like Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, the City of Grand Rapids Office of Sustainability and Energy, and Alliance of Community Trees, but this has barely scratched the surface of achieving this goal. Therefore, this goal is unlikely to be achievable using only public land which may lead to some issues with property rights. (more…)
Wenzhou is called “China’s Jerusalem” because of the number of churches that have popped up around the city. And Sanjiang Church was, according to the New York Times, the “pride of this city’s growing Christian population.”
That was before the government brought in bulldozers and razed the church building to the ground.
The government claimed the the church violated zoning regulations, but an internal government document revealed the truth: “The priority is to remove crosses at religious activity sites on both sides of expressways, national highways and provincial highways,” the document says. “Over time and in batches, bring down the crosses from the rooftops to the facade of the buildings.”
Unfortunately, China is not the only country that is inflicting damage on religious property. A new Pew Research Center analysis finds that such incidents are occurring in almost three dozen countries around the world: (more…)
“In this part of the country, land is life,” says a young Ugandan woman. “Good dreams are about your land.” But widows and orphans are often denied access to their own land because of “property grabbing.”
As Jesse Rudy, the International Justice Mission Director in Uganda explains, property grabbing occurs when a man dies in Uganda and his relatives force the widow and her children off of their land, claiming it as ancestral “family land” disowning the widow from the man’s family.
International Justice Mission (IJM) is working to ensure that private property laws in Uganda are upheld and enforced. With the assistance of IJM, more than 650 widows and orphans have been able to recover their land.
As Kristie Eshelman says, “The work of IJM in Uganda is more example of how important well-enforced private property rights are to human prosperity – and how much we take them for granted in our own society.”
The most recent issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality, vol. 16, no. 2, has been published online at our website (here). This issue’s articles explore a range of subjects from biblical understandings of poverty, Islamic scripture, John Locke, the ills of apathy, an Eastern Orthodox view of the family and social justice, and much more.
In addition, this issue includes our regular symposium of the papers from the Theology of Work Consultation at the Evangelical Theological Society’s 2012 conference.
2013 marked several important anniversaries, as executive editor Jordan Ballor points out in his editorial, (more…)