armsFor such a humble and unassuming man, Pope Francis certainly has a gift for fabricating unnecessary controversy. Last week he released an encyclical that condemns free markets and man-made global warming. But that was rather tame compared to an even more controversial statement this week.

As reported by Reuters, Francis said,

It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time he’s made such statements about people who manufacture weapons. In May Francis is reported as having said,
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Blog author: bwalker
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
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Concerning the “Ecological” Path to Salvation
James V. Schall, S.J., The Catholic World Report

Whether or not we need church leaders also “believing” this ecological doctrine is probably not so clear. Still, the most problematic issue that Pope Francis’ earth-warming advocacy brings up is its scientific status. At best, it is opinion backed by some evidence. The document does not mention contrary evidence. Satellite readings of the planet’s temperature are different from UN computer generated statistics. The planet’s temperature has not changed in recent decades. Most of the controverted issues can plausibly be explained by natural causes. Climate changes have occurred on this planet since its beginning, long before man. The burning of fossil fuels does not produce any significant change in the already very low percentage (0.035%) of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Energy Realities And Big Data Complicate The Pope’s Call To Abandon Fossil Fuels
Mark P. Mills, Forbes

In Encyclicals, Popes quite properly speak from foundational religious and moral principles. I plan to speak about energy, hydrocarbons in particular, but from the perspective of foundational physics and economic principles. These are two different magisteria.

Being Stewards – Not Owners – of Our Environment
Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, Huffington Post

Business is a human enterprise and must strive for true human development and the common good. In the years ahead, the challenges will be large. How can we develop technologies that will move us to a zero-carbon economy? How can we boost living standards of the developing world in a sustainable way? How can we make sure all have access to nutrition, energy, healthcare and education?

The Left and Right Try to Lobby Pope Francis Months Ahead of U.S. Visit
Melinda Henneberger, Bloomberg

Previous popes spoke about the environment, too–to the point that Benedict was even called the “green pope”–but American conservatives remained unfazed because the overall emphasis on social issues was still to their liking. With Francis, that’s no longer the case.

US bishops say Pope Francis’ encyclical is a call to examine lifestyle choices
National Catholic Reporter

The church is not interested in settling scientific questions or replacing politics, said Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski. “But she does, however, wish to contribute to the conversation and offer a road map based on a correct anthropology or understanding of human dignity that includes the poor and excludes no one.”

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“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.” -Isaiah 61:11

Jean Marie owns a restaurant and farm in southern Rwanda. After his first year in business, he worked with Urwego, a local micro-finance partner with HOPE International, to secure a loan to purchase more animals and improve his land’s fertility.

Today, he employs 8 people, supports 11 orphans, and has 5 children:

His story is another great example of how something as simple as access to capital can be a key to achieving success and stability in the developing world. And yet Jean Marie’s story points to something even more crucial: a love for Jesus, faithful obedience, and the fruit of both across family, community, and enterprise. (more…)

Met. John of Pergamon

Met. John of Pergamon

At the Vatican press conference on Thursday for the launch of Pope Francis’ enviromental encyclical, a high ranking Greek Orthodox bishop, Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, said the document, titled Laudato Si in Latin or Praise be to You in English, comes at a “critical moment in human history” and will “undoubtedly have a worldwide effect on people’s consciousness.” He thanked the pope for “for raising his authoritative voice to draw the attention of the world to the urgent need to protect God’s creation from the damage we humans inflict on it with our behavior towards nature.”

Zizioulas, an advocate of what he calls “Radical Ecology” (more on that below), was in Rome as the representative of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew whose church for more than three decades  has taken to the bully pulpit of this ancient and oppressed see to advance Christian stewardship of the environment. This is why Bartholomew, who just concluded another environmental conference in Istanbul, is known as the Green Patriarch.

You can read the full text of Zizioulas’ remarks on the Vatican Radio site. How to understand the Orthodox role here? Five things, for starters.

1. Persuasion, not jurisdiction.

Bartholomew’s pronouncements on the environment have been applauded widely by environmental and media elites. Yet his numerous statements and declarations are met with little interest in the self-governed Orthodox churches outside the Greek Orthodox world. Certainly, his statements and endorsements of various United Nations climate treaties are not binding on other churches in any way. In the Orthodox Church, major theological controversies are settled by a council or synod. Debatable environmental stewardship policies and prescriptions don’t rise to this level. When you hear Bartholomew described by his own church or the media as the “spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians” that is true if he were to sit in synod with other Orthodox hierarchs where he is the “first among equals.” An Orthodox Council is in the works for 2016, but there are no momentous theological disputes on the agenda. Bartholomew, while widely revered, would not typically be considered by a Russian or Egyptian or Romanian or Serb or Bulgarian or Syrian as their pastor. They have their own patriarchs and popes. Nor does Bartholomew wield jurisdiction over the self-governed churches in Greece and Cyprus — although closely linked by language and culture and theological tradition to these lands. (more…)

William McGurn claims that Laudato Si’ adopts the environmentalists’ logic, if not their full conclusions, in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal. He critiques the encyclical’s “bleak” tone and economic pronouncements:

Put it this way. If you were a parent whose family was languishing in soul-crushing poverty in some desperate part of Africa, you’d hear two messages today:

The economist and entrepreneur will tell you that there is no nation so poor that its people cannot lift up themselves if they have the freedom to take advantage of modern technology and participate in the global marketplace. In the process, their neighbors will also be enriched and the environment improved.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis suggests that the impoverished in the developing world can never have better lives or a cleaner environment until the West imposes a much-reduced standard of living on itself.

Which offers the more hopeful and human way forward?

Read the full text of his article here.

george horrifiedIn today’s Public Discourse, Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, discusses the enormous debt crisis the U.S. and many nations currently face. While debt crises are hardly new, Gregg states, America’s current debt situation is frightening.

America’s public debt amounts to approximately 105 percent of GDP. Since 20 January 2009, America’s total outstanding public debt has grown from $10.626 trillion to $18.152 trillion as of May 8 this year. Such an increase reflects a consistent disparity between government revenues and expenditures that has long plagued America’s public finances.

What’s driving this debt? Gregg’s response: the welfare state. (more…)

In the Washington Times, Nicholas Hahn critiques the scientific and economic arguments of Pope Francis’s eco-encyclical and the policies the pontiff proposed.

Despite the pontiff’s best intentions to steer clear of politics, his encyclical too often engages in sophisticated science and partisan policymaking. Francis blames markets and advances in technology without at least admitting that the Industrial Revolution lifted more people out of poverty than ever before.

However, Pope Francis’s “most welcome contribution” is the affirmation that human beings belong in the center of creation, he writes.

Read the full text of Hahn’s “Pope Francis preaches the gospel of global warming” here.

Doug Bandow, member of the Advisory Board at the Acton Institute and Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, penned an exclusive article for the Acton Institute on the economic effect of the encyclical:

In Calling on Government, Laudato Si Underestimates Power of the the Market

by Doug Bandow

Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Laudato Si, offers a challenging read. That’s why he addresses his message to “every person living on this planet.” In his view “the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.” He advocates not only a practical political response, but more importantly calls mankind to a new “ecological spirituality.”

Indeed, his role, the Pontiff explains, is to help the rest of us apply the “rich heritage of Christian spirituality, the fruit of twenty centuries of personal and communal experience,” to the world around us. The Gospel should affect how we think, feel, and live. We should relate through it not only to people around us, but the entire environment.

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Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
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Economist Nicole Gelinas, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, explains the recent financial crisis in this brief video. Did banks fail us? No, she says. The problem is that the U.S. government has become too closely tied to banks, enabling their bad financial practices.

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
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Pope Francis asks pardon from Waldensian Protestants for past persecution
Philip Pullella, Reuters

Pope Francis asked forgiveness on Monday for the Roman Catholic Church’s “non-Christian and inhumane” treatment in the past of the Waldensians, a tiny Protestant movement the Vatican tried to exterminate in the 15th century.

Pope Francis is actually bringing America’s environmentalism movement to its religious and moral roots
Mark Stoll, Washington Post

In early colonial days, Puritans following Calvinist principles established communities across New England. Calvinism put special emphasis on God’s presence in the works of nature, and Puritans often went alone into the fields, woods, and hills to pray and meditate.

The Case for Religious Liberty
A. Barton Hinkle , Reason.com

The case of Iknoor Singh highlights the importance of protecting religious freedom.

How the Declaration of Independence Differs From the Magna Carta
Michael Sabo, The Daily Signal

This month we celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, which secured rights for free Englishmen, and, more importantly, established what would later become the principle of the rule of law.