Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, October 1, 2015

“God, or Nothing!”: Exclusive Interview with Cardinal Robert Sarah
Diane Montagna, Aleteia

If the Pope speaks about the economy or politics, it is not his field of expertise. He can offer his vision or opinion, but it’s not dogma. He can err. But what he says about Christ, about the Sacraments, about the faith must be considered as sure. If he speaks about the environment, the climate, the economy, immigrants, etc., he is working from information that may be correct, or mistaken, but [in these cases] he is speaking as Obama speaks, or another president. It doesn’t mean that what he says on the economy is dogma, something we need to follow. It’s an opinion.

Catholic school’s dilemma: Pope Francis vs oil dollars
Hailey Lee, CNBC

As Pope Francis advances his call to action against climate change and dependence on fossil fuels, some in the flock are faced with a dilemma. Many U.S. Catholic churches and institutions lease land out to oil and gas companies—and make good money doing it. County documents reveal that dioceses in Texas and Oklahoma have signed 235 leases in oil and gas since 2010, according to Reuters. The pope made a formal call to action in June, saying, “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”

For Heaven’s Sake
Roseann Hernandez, GoodTimes

The transformative power of the pope’s words has begun sinking in around Santa Cruz County, with the announcement that the Progressive Christian Forum will hold an event on Thursday, Oct. 1 to discuss the pope’s words and the message behind them.


creation of adam smallWhile the 2015 papal visit to the United States has wrapped up, the Acton Institute continues to add fresh content to our webpage dedicated to the pope, the environment, the global economy and other issues of note.

Currently, the page features a Fox News video with Acton co-founder Rev. Robert Sirico, discussing the pope’s first U.S. trip, and his speeches and remarks during that visit. In addition, the page highlights Acton expert news analysis, including recent remarks by Samuel Gregg, Acton’s director of research, in the National Catholic Register, and Rev. Sirico’s commentary during the papal visit to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

Further, the webpage includes an “Environmental Stewardship In-depth” section. This section currently contains more than three dozen scholarly resources, including material from Jewish, Catholic and Orthodox scholars and a section-by-section guide to the papal encyclical, Laudato Si’.

As we continue to cover these issues, this webpage will be updated; we hope it will be a rich resource of reasoned thought and informative material.


Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, October 1, 2015

The public value of religious faith
Mark DeForrest, The New Reform Club

In the midst of the “new atheist” attack on the value of religion as a public good, British philosopher Roger Scruton took part in a discussion regarding that topic over at the UK Independent online: Scruton defended religion as a force for good in society.

Cards Against Humanitarians
Ilya Lozovsky, Foreign Policy

How a satirical card game is skewering the international development industry — and raising uncomfortable critiques of the global development agenda.

Victims of China’s Religious Liberty ‘Crackdown’ Appeal to Obama. But Will He Help?
Madaline Donnelly, The Daily Signal

Earlier this week, as devout American Catholics took to the streets of Washington to celebrate the arrival of Pope Francis, four Chinese human rights activists sat in a small, plain congressional office room on Capitol Hill.

A Place for the Stateless: Can a Startup City Solve the Refugee Crisis?
Mark Lutter, Foundation for Economic Education

Can refugees (and billionaire investors) build their own state?

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

acton-commentary-blogimageIt may be too early to tell, says Kishore Jayabalan in this week’s Acton Commentary, but has Francis has learned something about economics from his American critics?

Can we dare to say that Francis has learned something about economics from his American critics? Maybe so. Compare what he said in Latin America about the “idolatry of money” and the “dung of the devil” to his speech in Congress about the “creation and distribution of wealth” and the “spirit of enterprise.” On his return flight from Paraguay, the pope had said he needed to study the American criticisms of his economic statements and admitted he was “allergic to economics.” He knows that we live in an individualistic age but shouldn’t be nostalgic or romantic about the past. Whatever happened in the pope’s thinking about economics, it was a step in the right direction.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here. , but has Francis has learned something about economics from his American critics?

Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Energy Election
Joel Kotkin, Real Clear Politics

Blessed by Pope Francis, the drive to wipe out fossil fuels, notes activist Bill McKibben, now has “the wind in its sails.” Setting aside the bizarre alliance of the Roman Catholic Church with secularists such as McKibben, who favor severe limits of family size as an environmental imperative, this is a potentially transformational moment.

Vatican newspaper: analysis of recent Muslim statement on climate change
Catholic World News

Father Damian Howard, an English Jesuit, compares the declaration with Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ and writes that the declaration’s statement that “our planet has existed for billions of years” is noteworthy because this view is not universally accepted among Muslims.

On Climate Change, Listen to Pope Francis, Not Jeb Bush
John Nichols, The Nation

Before he chose to pursue the priesthood, the future pope trained as a chemical technician. Writers for the National Catholic Reporter reference “his training as a scientist” and point out that the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio “worked as a chemist prior to entering the seminary.”


942772451cd966834f98da1416356590.1000x744x1Attacks on liberty seem to be the new normal, especially direct assault on freedom of speech and religious liberty. The news is filled with stories about Europeans and Americans being accused of “hate speech,” universities creating absurd speech codes, and faithful Christians being told to violate their beliefs or face jail time or fines.

The spiked Project “free speech NOW” will tackle these issues next month in our nation’s capital during the event, “The First Amendment in the 21st Century: Reinvigorating old rights for new times:”

spiked is not prepared to take the assault on our freedoms lying down. So, on Thursday October 15, in Washington, DC, we are holding a special, half-day conference on liberty, consisting of three lively and provocative discussions. In partnership with the Alliance Defending Freedom and supported by the Acton Institute, each session will explore the troubles afflicting core First Amendment freedoms – speech, press and religion.


Thus far your writer’s reportage on matters related to so-called “religious” shareholder activism has focused mainly on the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and As You Sow. It is called Interfaith and that should tell you that this project isn’t restricted to Protestants and Catholics. Certain other members from another Great Faith unfortunately fall into the same category.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation, another ICCR member, describes its faith-based mission thus:

The Nathan Cummings Foundation is rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice, including fairness, diversity, and community. We seek to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes humane health care; and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities.

Laura Shaffer Campos, director of NCF shareholder activities, described the focus of NCF activism to ICCR’s Corporate Examiner:

Of course, we file directly on climate change. But we also seek to address climate and inequality by engaging companies on issues like corporate political spending and the network neutrality of the wireless networks that represent the primary means of Internet access for economically disadvantaged communities.

NCF’s proxy resolutions include political contribution disclosure requirements, which were submitted this year to Duke Energy and Spectra Energy. Where to begin when one would be hard-pressed to find anything in “Jewish tradition, democratic values and social justice” to actually support such claims? (more…)

Cash RegistersThere’s an intriguing piece in the NYT from last month by Hiroko Tabuchi that explores some of the challenges facing traditional retailers (HT: Sarah Pulliam Bailey), “Stores Suffer From a Shift of Behavior in Buyers.”

Department stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s seem to be losing out on the rebound in consumer spending. “Department stores made up one of just two categories tracked by the Commerce Department where spending declined, the latest in a choppy performance from them this year. Spending at electronics and appliance stores also fell 1.2 percent in July,” writes Tabuchi.

One major explanation offered by Tabuchi’s sources is that this part of a larger paradigm shift in American consumer attitude. “The religion of consumption has proven to be unfulfilling,” says Richard E. Jaffe, a retailing analyst, “The ‘pile it high and watch it fly’ mentality at department stores no longer works.”

gty_pope_francis_kim_davis_wg_150929_16x9_992On the papal plane back to the Rome, Pope Francis said that government officials have a “human right” to refuse to discharge a duty if they feel it violates their conscience. “Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right,” Francis said.

The pontiff admitted, though, that he “can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscientious objection.” But what would he think about the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who objected to having her name on same-sex marriage licenses?

Turns out he told her, in person, to “stay strong.”

At least that’s the report of Davis’s lawyer, Mathew D. Staver. According to Staver, Davis and Francis met at the Vatican embassy:

The highly popular “buy-one, give-one” models — as epitomized by the popular TOMS Shoes brand — have long held the attention of Western do-gooders. It’s quick, it’s easy, and hey, people like the shoes. And let’s not forget the power of the Warm & Fuzzies.

Yet many are beginning to raise concerns about the actual impact of these activities. As Acton’s Michael Matheson Miller recently explained in an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, “The one-for-one model can undermine local producers. When you give free things, why would you buy local shoes?”

In the debut of his new smarty-pants comedy show, “Adam Ruins Everything,” Adam Conover chooses to set his sights on precisely this:

To their credit, TOMS Shoes has taken certain steps to reconsider its model, including a decision to “employ 100 Haitians and build a ‘responsible, sustainable’ shoe industry in Haiti.” But alas, by all public appearances, there is still a ways to go. (more…)