For the holiday season this year, the Acton Institute has a very special window display facing Veteran’s Park and Fulton Street in downtown Grand Rapids. The window display, “Wise men still seek Him” features a rare nativity set, Cathedral glass-inspired paint, and more. Acton’s president and co-founder, Rev. Robert Sirico, inspired the work, wanting to create a proper display for his personal precepio (extended nativity scene).
It’s said that in 1223, St. Francis of Assisi invented the first nativity scene, bringing together a living reenactment of the birth of Christ. Since then, these simple or ornate sets have graced the homes of many families throughout the world in all lands. (more…)
In his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis appeals for “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” (n. 14) The encyclical also calls for “broader proposals” (n. 15), “a variety of proposals” (n.60), greater engagement between religion and science (n. 62) and among the sciences (n. 201), and bringing together scientific-technological language with that of the people (n. 143).
In this spirit of dialogue and engagement, the Acton Institute is organizing a half-day conference around the question, “Can free markets help us care for our common home?” The first session will examine the theological and philosophical foundations of Laudato Si’ while the second will look at specific economic, social and environmental issues from various perspectives, such as finance, agriculture and natural resource management. The conference will attempt to carry out the encyclical’s call for open and honest discussion of these and related areas, taking into account the principles of Catholic social teaching, Christian anthropology and stewardship, and the insights of natural and social sciences.
Below, Acton President Rev. Robert A. Sirico offers his personal invitation to the conference, which takes place in Rome at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross on December 3, 2015.
While at Acton University not too long ago, Buenos Aires journalist Adrián Bono sat down with Rev. Robert Sirico to discuss Laudato Si’. Bono recently wrote about his interview with Acton’s president and co-founder at Infobae. “Muchos no saben que la encíclica depende de la hermenéutica,” Sirico argued, “que significa cómo puede interpretada. No es un documento infalible.” Simply put, Laudato Si’ is not a binding document for Catholics, but many don’t understand that. He continues on that thought:
Merece respeto, pero no necesariamente significa que los creyentes deben seguirla. En lo que respecta a sus enseñanzas de la doctrina, los católicos tienen la obligación fiel de seguirla, pero en lo que hace a sus declaraciones empíricas, esas se le dejan a la comunidad científica para que sean debatidas. La ciencia es un proceso abierto de debate y descubrimiento…A veces el Papa es imprudente al hablar de conjeturas científicas y análisis económico.”
In anticipation of the new papal encyclical on the environment (reportedly due out this month, and titled Laudato si’ [Praised Be You]), the press is seeking a way to make sense out of information “floating around” concerning the contents of the encyclical. At this point, no one really knows what the encyclical will say, although there are educated guesses. (See Fr. Robert Sirico’s discussion on the encyclical here.)
Peter Smith at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a “round-up” of various Vatican watchers, officials and teachers, asking for opinions on this environmental encyclical. Included in this group was Kishore Jayabalan, director of Istituto Acton (Acton’s Rome office.) Jayabalan told Smith that:
… he hopes the pope emphasizes “our freedom and responsibility in caring for God’s creation” and the poor. (more…)
We’ve had an amazing collection of speakers participating in the 2015 Acton Lecture Series, and today we’re pleased to be able to share the video of one of the highlights of the series: George Weigel’s discussion of ten essential things to know about Pope Francis, which he delivered on May 6th.
Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D. C. An eminent Catholic theologian, he’s the author of numerous books, most famously Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II; he’s also a columnist, commentator, and regular guest on radio and TV to discuss Catholic issues. There are few who are better qualified to examine the always surprising and sometimes controversial papacy of Pope Francis.
We present the video of Weigel’s lecture below, and after the jump I’ve included a recent edition of Radio Free Acton, which features a discussion between Weigel, Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico, and our Director of Research Samuel Gregg.
President Obama remarked that he would like faith organizations and churches to speak to poverty solutions “in a more forceful fashion” at a Georgetown University summit in mid-May. The meeting included faith leaders from Catholic and evangelical denominations, and included political thinkers Robert Putnam of Harvard, and the American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks.
Putnam said the voice of the faithful in the U.S. is critical to alleviating poverty.
Without the voice of faith, it’s going to be very hard to push this to the top of the agenda,” said Putnam, co-author of “American Grace,” and “Our Kids,” a book about the widening gap between rich and poor children in America.
If religious observance includes an obligation to the poor, the religious can be a powerful force for positive action and social justice, said Putnam.
Rev. Robert Sirico, co-founder of the Acton Institute, commented on the summit’s call for more involvement by churches in meeting the needs of the poor. (more…)