Rev. Robert A. Sirico takes time to chat with participants at the April 20 Rome conference "Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time"

Rev. Robert A. Sirico, second from left, takes time to chat with participants at the April 20 Rome conference “Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time”

French journalist Solène Tadié published an exclusive interview today with Rev. Robert A. Sirico: “Entretien avec le père Robert Sirico pour le 125e anniversaire de l’encyclique Rerum Novarum“. Rev. Sirico was in Rome as the final speaker at Acton’s April 20 Rome conference “Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New things of Our Time” when he made many original comments that spurred journalists to follow up with him afterward.

Toward the middle of her interview, Tadié asked what he thought about European socialists claiming that they had created the term “liberalism”.

Sirico responded with pastoral and intellectual depth about the social and individual dimensions of the human person. In the end, he says Christianity  provides the best “anthropological balance”, between classical liberal individualism and  liberal socialists over-emphasizing the social dimension of man. His answer, published for Institut Coppet, is transcribed below (listen in audio file from 7:52-10:58). It is well worth reading in full:

This is a very French question, and it’s a very good question…. because it goes [back] to the question of the Renaissance and the Iluminismo — the Enlightenment– and a number of these issues that cluster around…And even in the contrast between the French Revolution and the American Revolution.

Without going into a long historical discourse, here is what I what I would say: I think that Christianity, over the centuries, came to a higher and higher view of the dignity of the human person. Certainly, it was a very radical notion right at the beginning, because it is said that people were redeemed not by basis of their ethnicity, but by basis of their personal relationship with Christ. For example in the baptismal rite, I can’t baptize a number of people at once. I have to baptize them one at a time. And so this speaks to the dignity of the human person. (more…)

Feeling the Bern

Alvino-Mario Fantini, editor-in-chief of the The European Conservativeand Michael Severance, operations manager of Istituto Acton, co-wrote an op-ed for The Catholic World Report Are Pope Leo XIII and Pope Saint John Paul II “feeling the Bern”? The article was published yesterday as a concluding reflection on Acton’s April 20 Rome conference “Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time“.

The op-ed  summarizes some of the main moral theological and anthropological points expressed last Wednesday — especially those made by the theologian of the papal household Fr. Wojciech Giertych, OP. Fr. Giertych  reminded everyone present that Pope Leo XIII, the first pope in centuries not to have temporal power over the Papal States, did not have a state-centric approach to anthropology. Pope Leo, said Giertych, “insisted that by nature man precedes the state – and independently of it he has the right to provide for his own needs (RN, 7).” (more…)

soil-stewardship-sundayDuring the drought that struck the United States from 1934 to 1937, the soil became so badly eroded that static electricity built up on the farmlands of the Great Plains, pulling dust into the sky like a magnet. Massive clouds of dust rose up to 10,000 feet and, powered by high-altitude winds, was pushed as far east as New York City.

When the “black blizzard” hit Washington, D.C. in May 1934, Hugh Hammond Bennett — the “father of soil conservation” — was testifying before a congressional committee about the effects of soil erosion. Bennett’s testimony lead Congress to unanimously pass legislation declaring soil and water conservation a national policy and priority.

But fixing soil erosion was not something the government could do on its own. As the National Association of Conservation Districts explains, “Because nearly three-fourths of the continental United States is privately owned, Congress realized that only active, voluntary support from landowners would guarantee the success of conservation work on private land. In 1937, President Roosevelt wrote the governors of all the states recommending legislation that would allow local landowners to form soil conservation districts.”
(more…)

pollution-cleanedAlthough Earth Day 2016 has officially ended, the call for Christians to care for the Earth continues. For us, every day is Earth day.

Too often, though, we Christians don’t have a robust enough understanding of how to care for the environment or how that duty is connected to economics.

A decade ago, Acton research fellow Jordan Ballor wrote the best, brief explanation you’ll ever find on the connection between economics and environmental stewardship. As Ballor says, economics can be understood as the theoretical side of stewardship, and stewardship can be understood as the practical side of economics.
(more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, April 25, 2016
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What if the one percent actually help poor people live longer?
Angela Rachidi, AEI Ideas

Bernie Sanders has done well in the Democratic primary race with his populist message against Wall Street and the 1%. But what if poor people actually benefit from living in a city with a lot of rich people?

Licensing Laws Are Shutting Young People Out Of The Job Market
Ben Casselman, FiveThirtyEight

Young people entering the job market have always faced challenges: a lack of skills and experience, limited professional networks, unfamiliarity with workplace culture and expectations. But increasingly, they are also facing another obstacle: legal requirements that can shut off avenues to jobs before they even get the chance to apply.

Free trade critics love to cite this economist. But he actually thinks trade is essential.
Zach Beuchamp, Vox

Gordon Hanson is an economist at the University of California San Diego, and you’d expect him to be a fierce critic of free trade. He’s a co-author of perhaps the most famous study showing the downside of trade for American workers, which concluded that exports from China in the 1990s and 2000s cost the US a huge number of manufacturing jobs. Yet Hanson is anything but anti-trade.

How highly religious Americans’ lives are different from others
Michael Lipka, Pew Research Center

Plenty of attention has been paid to the political disagreements between highly religious and less religious Americans, including on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion. But there has been less talk about how these groups differ – when they do – in how they live their everyday lives.

20th April 2016, Rome, Centro Congressi Roma Eventi - Fontana di Trevi International Conference "Freedom with justice: Rerum Novarum and the new things of our time."

A capacity crowd of professors, students, and opinion makers attends the April 20 2016 Acton Conference in Rome “Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of our Time”.

In an article published Friday by Zenit’s Rome correspondent, Deborah Lubov, we find an excellent summary of Acton’s recently concluded Rome conference: “Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time.”

Lubov writes in here roundup article:

Pope Leo’s encyclical on ‘revolutionary things,’ many [speakers] noted, also had much to say about the demands for freedom and social justice in the late-nineteenth century as increasing numbers of people became focused upon what was called “the social question.” During the conference, many bishops and intellectuals from Europe and America addressed topics such as Pope Leo’s attempt to revive the thought of Aquinas, the continuing importance of religious, economic, and political freedom, the State’s role in a global economy, and socialism’s resurgence today.

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We all need help thinking more clearly — you, me, U.S. Senators like Barbara Boxer, says John Stonestreet. And denying it sometimes proves the opposite.

A hearing that was held last week of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works consisted of Senator Barbara Boxer of California, Alex Epstein, the President for the Center for Industrial Progress, and Father Robert Sirico, a priest and president of the Acton Institute, among others.

The topic was how the president’s climate policies had impacted economic opportunity, national security, and related issues. As Mr. Epstein finished his testimony by telling a story from his book A Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, Senator Boxer demanded: “Mr. Epstein, Are you a scientist?”

“No,” he replied. “I’m a philosopher.” When Boxer sarcastically implied that he didn’t belong in the hearing because he wasn’t a scientist, Epstein pointed out that philosophy helps folks think more clearly. Boxer snapped back, “I don’t need help thinking more clearly.”

Well, with all due respect to the good senator from California, the entire exchange demonstrated she does need help thinking more clearly, since hers was a classic example of a self-defeating set of statements. First, if philosophers do not belong in such a hearing because they are not scientists, do politicians belong who are not scientists?

Here’s the video of Rev. Sirico tangling with Sen. Barbara Boxer on the Pope, energy, and the environment.