The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have again brought to the forefront discussions about problems of culture faced by both Europe and the United States. The attacks have complicated western responses to the Syrian refugee crisis, with concerns about the stated intentions of groups like ISIS to smuggle operatives into western nations among the legitimate refugees in order to carry out terror operations. And of course, the questions of the compatibility of Islam with western political and economic values, as well as questions about the will of western nations to defend and uphold those values have returned as well. Acton’s Director of Research Samuel Gregg joined host Al Kresta last Tuesday on Ave Maria Radio’s Kresta in the Afternoon to discuss these important issues; you can listen to the full interview via the audio player below, and be sure to check out Sam’s article “The End of Europe” at Public Discourse.
Despite a decline in the number of individuals attending Mass, Catholicism in France is becoming more self-confident and, surprisingly, more orthodox. Writing for the Catholic World Report, Samuel Gregg discusses the Catholic Church in France. He says that France’s néocatholiques are leading change in the European nation:
Perhaps the most evident sign of this sea-change in French Catholicism is what’s called La Manif pour tous. This movement of hundreds of thousands of French citizens emerged in 2012 to contest changes to France’s marriage laws. La Manif’s membership traverses France’s deep left-right fracture. It also includes secular-minded people, many Jews, some Muslims, and even a good number of self-described gays. Yet La Manif’s base and leadership primarily consist of lay Catholics. Though the French legislature passed la loi Taubira legalizing same-sex marriage in 2013, the Socialist government has subsequently trod somewhat more carefully in the realm of social policy. After all, when a movement can put a million-plus people on the streets to protest on a regular basis, French politicians have historical reasons to get nervous.
Writing for Public Discourse, Samuel Gregg has some rather negative predictions about the European Union in a new piece titled, “The end of Europe.” Gregg begins by quoting France’s leader during World War II, General Charles de Gaulle. In his Mémoires d’Espoir, de Gaulle saw Europe as having “a spiritual and cultural heritage.” He wrote that “the same Christian origins and the same way of life, linked to one another since time immemorial by countless ties of thought, art, science, politics and trade.” The current crisis in Europe reflects de Gaulle’s insights. European governments have abandoned their Judaeo-Christian origins and have placed their faith in bureaucracies whose authority stretches beyond country borders, but who are guaranteed to further European decline.
Gregg states that there are essentially three concepts to consider regarding Europe’s current issues: (more…)
A week ago, we reported here the puzzling remarks made by Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich regarding Catholic membership in labor unions. Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, has plenty more to say regarding Cupich, the formation of one’s conscience and membership to unions. In Crisis Magazine, Gregg first tells readers what Cupich recently said when questioned about someone being in the state of sin and receiving Communion:
While recently discussing the question of whether those who have (1) not repented of sin and/or (2) not resolved to go and sin no more may receive communion, Archbishop Cupich stated: “If people come to a decision in good conscience then our job is to help them move forward and to respect that. The conscience is inviolable and we have to respect that when they make decisions, and I’ve always done that.” Referring specifically to people with same-sex attraction, he noted that “my role as a pastor is to help them to discern what the will of God is by looking at the objective moral teaching of the Church and yet, at the same time, helping them through a period of discernment to understand what God is calling them to at that point.”
Gregg refers to this sort of thinking as “subjectivity of truth:” it’s hedging with a smidgen of truth in an attempt to please everyone. Cupich did much the same when speaking about labor unions:
Alongside a defense of religious liberty, most of the Archbishop’s address simply reiterated Catholic social teaching about unions. Perhaps it wasn’t the occasion to say such things, but absent from Archbishop Cupich’s remarks was any reference to the numerous caveats stated by popes—such as those detailed by Blessed Paul VI (who no-one would describe as a gung-ho anti-union capitalist) in his 1971 apostolic letter Octogesima Adveniens (no.14) and Saint John Paul II’s 1981 encyclical Laborem Exercens (no.20)—concerning the very real limits upon what unions may do. Unfortunately, modern America is awash with examples of what happens when unions (in collusion with business executives who go along to get along) ignore those limits, as broken cities such as Detroit know all too well.
At Public Discourse, Samuel Gregg (Acton’s director of research) discusses Adam Macleod’s Property and Practical Reason, which Gregg says attempts to rethink this key element of economic liberty and renews “the manner in which natural law scholars have traditionally addressed this topic.”
Gregg first outlines classical reflections on natural law. Then, he offers what he sees as Macleod’s insights:
In addition to drawing on new natural law theory (of which he provides one of the most accessible explanations that I’ve read), MacLeod is attentive to other exponents of pluralist non-paternalistic perfectionist accounts of law, such as the liberal legal theorist Joseph Raz. MacLeod’s core thesis is summarized concisely in the second sentence of the book’s introduction: “institutions of private ownership are justified, and in many communities are required, by a basic moral principle. That principle is equal respect for human beings as agents of practical reason.”
Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg joins host Drew Mariani on Relevant Radio’s The Drew Mariani Show to discuss the important issue of conscience: what is it, and how should Roman Catholics in particular approach difficult moral issues in their day to day life? You can listen to the interview via the audio player below.
In today’s American Spectator, Acton’s Director of Research Samuel Gregg notes that left-wing politicians, supporters of socialism, and social engineers seem to have taken over – not just in American politics, but globally. Why? Gregg suggests three reasons:
One abiding cause of the left’s on-going ascendency, I’d suggest, is that the visible weakening of orthodox religion throughout the West. As the 20th century Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac observed, liberalized forms of Judaism and Christianity don’t involve abandonment of a desire for the transcendent. Man, he claimed, remains homo religiosus. The yearning for the eschaton subsequently gets channeled by liberal religion into the pursuit of this-worldly commitments …
A second enduring dynamic that’s boosting the left’s forward-march, and which is perhaps even less curable by policy-changes. It is, in a word, democracy. (more…)