Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, September 24, 2015

As Pope Francis Meets America, a Climate Science Scholar Offers a Fresh View of the Encyclical
Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times

As Pope Francis gets into high gear on his visit to the United States, it’s worth reviewing details and contexts in the extraordinary message to Catholics and the rest of the planet in “On Care for Our Common Home,” the encyclical he issued earlier this year. The core message lies in a simple phrase in the poem he included: “The poor and the Earth are crying out.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr: Pope’s Call to Tackle Climate Change ‘Is a Moral Imperative’
Stefanie Spear, EcoWatch

Herzenberg asked Kennedy what he thought of the political stance the Pope has been taking. Kennedy responded, “We have the ice caps melting, we have millions of environmental refugees, we have water supplies drying out, we have fires and floods and cities being inundated and it’s a crisis right now and what he is saying is that we need to treat this as the crisis that it is.

Even liberals think the Pope needs an economics lesson
Chris Matthews, Fortune

Certainly, many on the American left would agree with the Pope’s analysis, but there was one part of the text that rankled economists, even those who have long advocated for a concerted effort to combat climate change. Not only does the pope condemn modern capitalism as the cause of climate change. He also argues that market-based solutions to the problem will only exacerbate our reliance on an economic order that has caused major problems:


As the Pope’s address to the US Congress drew to a close, France 24 Television turned to Kishore Jayabalan, Director of Istituto Acton in Rome, for a reaction to Francis’ message. You can view his analysis below.

pope-speaking-to-congressThis morning Pope Francis became the first pontiff in history to give an address the United States Congress. In his 30 minutes speech, which he delivered in English, the pope touched on wide range of issues, from the economics to the environment to global poverty.

Here are twenty key quotes from that address (quotes are combined by topic and not necessarily presented in the order given in the pope’s speech):

The Role of Law and Politics

[Speaking about Congress] You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk.


Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Political and Economic Injustice

We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The Role of Religion in Society

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, September 24, 2015

Is Capitalism Unchristian?
Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition

Capitalism is not required by Christianity. But Christian principles do undergird capitalism.

God and Mrs. Thatcher: The Battle for Britain’s Soul
Eliza Filby, Heritage Foundation

A woman demonized by the left and sanctified by the right, there has always been a religious undercurrent to discussions of Margaret Thatcher.

The Pope’s Visit Is An Opportunity For Conservatives To Discuss Poverty
Israel Ortega, Opportunity Lives

Much of the pope’s message about caring for “the least of these” is consistent with what Jesus was preaching two millennia ago. Underpinning the call to care for the poor is the understanding that life has an intrinsic value and that we are all created in God’s image. That was a revolutionary statement in Jesus’ time, as it is today.

Pope Francis’ blind spot on capitalism
James Pethokoukis, AEI Ideas

Pope Francis and China’s President Xi Jinping will each be in Washington this week to meet with President Barack Obama. Too bad they’re not meeting with each other, too. It would be an interesting chat, especially if they discussed the merits of modern capitalism.

The pontificate of Pope Francis has inspired a great deal of discussion and analysis from the very beginning, and the discussion has only grown with the releases of Evangelii Gaudium and Laudeto Si’, his pastoral letter and first encyclical, respectively. Often that discussion becomes heated, and even angry, as various political or social factions attempt to claim Pope Francis as an advocate for their cause. From time to time it’s helpful to step back and have a calm, rational discussion about the Pope, and there are few more qualified to engage in such a discussion than Al Kresta and Acton Institue Director of Research Samuel Gregg. Sam joined Al on Ave Maria Radio’s Kresta In The Afternoon on Tuesday to provide some context and analysis for Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, and also provides some solid guidelines on what types of issues faithful catholics must assent to church teaching on, and other types of issues that allow for a wide range of prudential debate.

It’s our pleasure to share this interview with you via the audio player below.


The Vatican Information Service reported on last week’s address by Pope Francis to the collected environment ministers of the European Union. In his remarks, the Pope reiterated the environmental concerns expressed in his encyclical, Laudato Si:

This morning, before the Wednesday general audience, the Pope received the environment ministers of the European Union who will soon face two important events: the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the COP 21 in Paris. Francis remarked that their mission is increasingly important since the environment is a ‘collective good, a patrimony for all humanity, and the responsibility of each one of us – a responsibility that can only be transversal and which requires effective collaboration within the entire international community.’…

‘In the encyclical Laudato si’ I spoke about our ecological debt, especially between the North and the South, linked to commercial imbalances with consequences in the environmental sphere, such as the disproportionate use of natural resources historically made by some countries. We must honour that debt. These latter are required to contribute to settling the debt by offering a good example, substantially limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy, contributing resources to countries in need to promote policies and programmes of sustainable development, adopting suitable systems for managing forests, transport and refuse, and facing the serious problem of food waste, promoting a circular model for the economy and encouraging new attitudes and lifestyles.’

This, much like the assessments making up the bulk of Laudato Si, present a largely unwarranted, pessimistic view of our environment. In the words of Sgt. Hulka (played by Warren Oates) in Stripes, “Lighten up, Francis.” While, admittedly, much work still needs to be done to protect our environment and reverse decades and sometimes centuries of neglect (a significant share of devastation wrought more from poverty than industrial activity), much has been improved since the environmental movement began 50 years ago. (more…)

Acton President Rev. Robert A. Sirico is in Washington, D.C. to participate in the papal visit to the US; tomorrow he will be attending the Pope’s address to the US Congress. In the meantime, he’s being called upon to comment on Pope Francis’ trip and the challenges the Pope will offer to both sides of the political debate in the United States. Below, you can view Sirico’s interview on Bloomberg TV from this morning. And stay tuned to the PowerBlog for more updates on Acton experts being tapped for commentary on the Pope’s visit.

francisgmo62815“Defending capitalism on practical grounds is easy,” writes economist Donald Boudreaux at the Mercatus Center. “It is history’s greatest force for raising the living standards of the masses.”

What’s more difficult, it seems, is understanding its moral logic, spiritual implications, and which of each is or isn’t inherent to private ownership and economic exchange.

At what level, for instance, is freely buying a gallon of milk at a freely agreed-to price from a freely employed worker at an independent grocery store an act of sin, idolatry, and exploitation? Such basic transactions are, after all, the bread and butter of a system built on free enterprise and open exchange (i.e. capitalism). From here, it gets more complicated, of course, and even that basic starting point can surely involve corrupt actors and action.

Yet even Pope Francis, discernor of the discerning, seems to struggle in locating Point A of that basic logic, even when railing against its banner. I tend to presume that basic milk purchases are not, in fact, his actual target. But then he continues and without qualification, railing against markets at large and ripping at plenty of positives that dangle well outside the deserving injustices of cronyist corporatism.

The Pope prefers to argue not that capitalism “has its faults” or “demands a virtuous society,” but rather that it is a “new tyranny,” one that followed the ills of communism, but filled the void with something just as tragic. (more…)

daraprim-price-hike-892x600In the early 1950s, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Gertrude Elion developed the drug Daraprim to combat malaria. Daraprim is now also used to fight toxoplasmosis, which infects people whose immune systems have been weakened by AIDS, chemotherapy and pregnancy. It’s such an important drug that it’s on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, among the most important medications needed in a basic health system.

A single pill used to sell for $1, but the price was raised around 2010 to $13.50. Last week the price jumped 5,000 percent to $750 a tablet.

There was no shortage or other supply and demand factors that would justify the rapid price increase. Turing Pharmaceuticals had bought the drug from Impax Laboratories in August for $55 million and raised the price to cover their costs. Turing’s CEO Martin Shkreli said, “This isn’t the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business.”

The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association disagree, saying “this cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication.”

Some people believe this incident is an example of the failures of free market capitalism, and claim this is why we need more government intervention. But the exact opposite is true: This is an example of government failure which the free market could solve.

Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico joined host Laura Ingraham on The Laura Ingraham Show while stuck in Washington, D.C. traffic resulting from the arrival of Pope Francis in the city. They discussed the the optics of the Pope’s arrival at the White House, his comments there, and what to expect as the Pope addresses Congress tomorrow morning.

We’ve posted the audio of the interview below; our thanks to The Laura Ingraham Show for the kind permission to share this audio with you.