Greg Corombus of Radio America interviewed Acton President and Co-founder Rev. Robert Sirico to discuss the resignation of Pope Benedict VXI.

Rev. Sirico had this to say about Pope Benedict:

I think he was more than a caretaker pope. I think he unpacked a lot of the pontificate of John Paul II in the sense that he really delineated some of the teaching and expressed it in a slightly different way.

John Paul was not an easy act to follow either in terms of his charismatic personality or his intellect, but I think the way [Cardinal Joseph] Ratzinger went about his pontificate showed that he was his own man. He had his own style, and, intellectually, he was a beautiful complement…I think where he did make a very obvious advance was in the renewal of the church’s liturgy, especially in the greater permission for the celebration of the older forms of the mass and a deeper understanding of the contemplative and spiritual dimension of Catholic worship.

Listen to the full discussion here:

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Stamp-higher-educationThe latest topic of The City podcast is the higher education bubble, featuring Cate MacDonald, Dr. John Mark Reynolds, and Dr. Holly Ordway. Reynolds makes the point that bubbles can arise when things are overvalued, but that it is important to determine whether that thing is relatively overvalued or absolutely overvalued. That is, to speak of a higher education bubble is to recognize that higher education is relatively more expensive than it is worth, but that it isn’t therefore worth nothing. The challenges facing higher education are various and multi-faceted, and one of the key issues is the necessity of determining how college education ought to be valued.

The podcast also discusses the level of student indebtedness, which is perhaps a sign of the disconnect between cost and value, and this also is a topic that comes up in the recent controversy in the latest issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality between William Pannapacker and Marc Baer of Hope College. The point of departure for the discussion is the question, “Should students be encouraged to pursue graduate education in the humanities?” Pannapacker has a long-running column in the Chronicle of Higher Education under the pen name Thomas H. Benton that has addressed issues of graduate higher education and academic culture. In a 2009 piece, “Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go,” Pannapacker writes,

It can be painful, but it is better that undergraduates considering graduate school in the humanities should know the truth now, instead of when they are 30 and unemployed, or worse, working as adjuncts at less than the minimum wage under the misguided belief that more teaching experience and more glowing recommendations will somehow open the door to a real position.

The adjunct phenomenon also features prominently in the JMM controversy between Pannapacker and Baer. As Baer contends, “Adjunct is a different problem in which academic leaders are more victims than perpetrators. The real perpetrator, at least for public universities, is the state legislator who has so unthinkingly starved higher education of resources.”

Moving from the state to the federal level, one possible consequence of the Affordable Care Act is that graduates who rely on adjunct teaching to make a living may face a greater squeeze on their already questionable financial livelihoods. As Mark Peters and Douglas Belkin report in The Wall Street Journal, “The federal health-care overhaul is prompting some colleges and universities to cut the hours of adjunct professors” because of the potential costs of providing health coverage to those adjuncts who teach 30 hours per week or more.

The first two pieces from the controversy are available for free on the JMM site: William Pannapacker’s “Should Students Be Encouraged to Pursue Graduate Education in the Humanities?” and Marc Baer’s “‘Graduate Education in the Humanities’: A Response to William Pannapacker.” The concluding pieces of the controversy are available to current subscribers, and you can become one today.

One of the major focuses of On Call in Culture is to remind Christians that discipleship doesn’t end when Sunday service concludes. Yet in going about our daily work, we should also be careful that we don’t neglect the important role the church can fill when it comes to matters of vocational stewardship and daily cultural engagement.

Over at (re)integrate, Dr. Amy Sherman, author of Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good, offers ten suggestions for how the church might encourage whole-life discipleship and vocational stewardship:

1. During corporate worship services, pray for members by vocation. This could take a variety of expressions:

  • pray aloud for a different occupational group (e.g., educators or businesspeople) each week
  • invite congregants who are facing difficulties on the job to come forward during or after the service for prayer
  • pray for individual members by name and vocation

2. Visit church members at their places of work.

3. Recognize vocational achievements and awards of congregants in the church’s newsletter or on its website.

4. Offer an adult education class that helps participants discern the dimensions of their vocational power (skills, networks, etc.) and gets them talking about how to deploy that power to advance Kingdom foretastes in and through their work.

5. Encourage the church’s small groups to incorporate regular times of discussion and prayer focused on members’ work lives.

Read the rest of her suggestions here.

To join the On Call in Culture community, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Reflecting on the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, Philip Booth, professor at Cass Business School in London, says the pope was clear on his economic ideas.

As he said in Caritas in Veritate: “Economy and finance, as instruments, can be used badly when those at the helm are motivated by purely selfish ends. But it is man’s darkened reason that produces these consequences, not the instrument per se”. In other words, credit derivative swaps are not evil, but those who abuse them might be.

He had a similarly wise understanding of the problems facing the welfare state. As he stated elsewhere: “There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. The state which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy, incapable of guaranteeing the very thing that the suffering person needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a state which regulates and controls everything”. Solidarity as a virtue is far superior to an intrusive welfare state.

Booth goes on to say that Benedict, in this same encyclical, states that the state’s role is to serve, and that family and civil society must take priority over the state.

Read “Pope Benedict saw why the capitalist system is virtuous” at City A.M.

Philip Booth is author of International Aid and Integral Human Development, available in the Acton Book Shop. He is author of the Acton Commentary, “Solidarity, Charity and Government Aid.”

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An Evangelical Looks at Pope Benedict XVI
Russell D. Moore, Moore to the Point

With Pope Benedict XVI’s shocking resignation this morning, evangelical Christians might be tempted to see this the way a college football fan might view the departure of his rival team’s head coach. But the global stakes are much, much higher.

Benedict: Last of the Heroic Generation
R.R. Reno, First Things

With the announcement of his resignation, Pope Benedict signals the end of the heroic generation.

The Pope Abdicates
Ross Douthat, New York Times

During his pontificate and the years of influence that preceded it, Benedict XVI was often stereotyped as an arch-traditionalist, but his next-to-unprecedented decision to abdicate the papal throne may be one of the most striking concessions to modernity a recent pope has made.

Orthodox-Catholic relations won’t be affected by change of Vatican leader – Russian Church

The Moscow Patriarchate hopes relations between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches will be developing as previously when a new pope is elected.

Evangelicals: Benedict has been a ‘friend of life’
Erin Roach, Baptist Press

As the world reacted to the unexpected news that Pope Benedict XVI would become the first pope in six centuries to resign, evangelicals acknowledged major theological differences while citing Benedict’s commitment to human dignity as a key part of his legacy.

Papal Resignations — A Historian’s Take
Kevin White, Mere Orthodoxy

As a historian, and one whose work covers part of the Middle Ages, Pope Benedict’s resignation was equal parts surprising and fascinating.

Rev. Robert Sirico appeared on the February 8 edition of “The Blaze” to discuss the revisions to the HHS mandate announced by the White House on January 20.

The following video features a brief part of Rev. Sirico’s contribution to the show. You may see the entire piece by going to The Blaze TV website and signing up for a free 14-day trial.

Kishore Jayabalan, Director of Istituto Acton in Rome, gave an interview today with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty regarding the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. While the pope cited his health as the reason he was stepping down, Jayabalan was asked if there were other contributing factors.

He does also talk about the pace of global media and politics and events today. So it’s also the circumstances that are surrounding his age and ill-health. I believe what he says, that the pace of the job and the pace of today’s modern-society communications make it very difficult for somebody who is not fully fit and fully capable of dealing with these fast changes. He feels like he has been left behind in some way, that he can’t effectively lead the church, and that there are probably many other cardinals out there, potential popes, who could do a better job.

Jayabalan believes Pope Benedict may return to his native Germany to write at the end of his papacy.

Read “Interview: Pope Felt ‘Left Behind'” at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.