Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
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acton-commentary-blogimage“With the Greek welfare state on the skids, the Church has stepped up,” says Dylan Pahman in this week’s Acton Commentary. Many Orthodox parishes have ministries to help those hit by the economic crisis, still struggling six years later.

With negotiations between Greece and its “troika” creditors dragging out like a soap opera with no ending, the economic indicators aren’t providing much cause for optimism. According to Standard & Poor, as of 2014 Greece’s GDP has shrunk to 75% what it was in 2009. The country’s current debt-to-GDP ratio, The Economist reports, “after two bail-outs stands at 180% of GDP.”

Dimosthenis Kouskoukis, a Ph.D. candidate researching the finances of the Orthodox Church in Greece, the established church in this nation, estimated that the number of people fed daily by parish soup kitchens and other ministries has increased from approximately 6,000 in 2009 to 16,000 as of 2014.

In Thessaloniki, the St. George parish has become not only a soup kitchen, but a job service and all around private aid society.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

Fr. Michael Butler offers insight on the recent encyclical from an Orthodox Christian perspective at Acton University 2015:

Blog author: bwalker
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
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The problem with Pope Francis’ encyclical is that nature is nasty: Spengler
David P. Goldman, Spengler

The trouble with natural theology (the notion that nature itself points us to an understanding of the divine) is that nature herself is a nasty piece of work. When St. Francis of Assisi and his namesake, the reigning Pope, laud nature as “mother” and “sister,” they open a can of theological worms. Nature is no sister of mine. Christians like to view things in terms of teleology–their ultimate goal–and the teleology of the world we know is to be destroyed in a fireball.

What Do We Do When the Pope Gets It Wrong?
John Zmirak, The Stream

No less a defender of Catholic truth than Barack Obama has made it clear: Pope Francis threw “the full moral authority of his position” behind the need to abandon fossil fuels, junk our unjust and exploitative free market system, and massively redistribute wealth via globalist institutions. These heroic measures are essential to save the earth and cushion the impact of switching to solar, thermal or hamster-treadmill power for poor countries worldwide.

Pope Francis vs. Wall Street
Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post

For Pope Francis, the market and the economy must be bound by rules that serve “basic and inalienable rights.” At the center of these is work: “We were created with a vocation to work.” Work is the setting for “rich personal growth . . . creativity, planning for the future, developing our talents, living out our values . . . giving glory to God.” Therefore, priority should be given to “the goal of access to steady employment for everyone, no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning.”

Pope Francis’ climate-change encyclical: If only Galileo could see it
Sarah Mosko, The Los Angeles Times

If successful, this pope’s encyclical will more than make up for the harm the Catholic Church caused in the past by its intransigent denial of the science proving that the Earth is not the center of the universe. Too bad Galileo isn’t here to see the church take the lead this time.

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It’s been a busy week for the Acton Institute, with Pope Francis’ Laudeto Si’ arriving in the middle of our biggest conference event of the year, Acton University. As a result, there is a bounty of media for Acton supporters to enjoy this week. Here’s a review, in case you missed anything.

Let’s start off with Acton University: All four evening keynote speeches are available for your viewing pleasure on our YouTube channel. I’ve embedded the address delivered last Wednesday by Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College in New York City, in this post; be sure to check out keynotes from Samuel Gregg, Joel Salatin, and Rev. Robert A. Sirico as well. You might also check out this fine piece put together by Experience GR that looks at the Acton University experience.

We’re busy uploading almost 100 lectures from AU 2015 to our digital download store; mp3 versions of all four evening keynote addresses are available for free.

While Acton University was in full swing, Pope Francis released his encyclical letter Laudato Si’, which has created a wave of commentary not only on the state of the global environment, but also on the proper response of Christians and Roman Catholics in particular to the Pope’s assertions in the encyclical.

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The release last week of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si unleashed a heaven-rending chorus of hallelujahs from the religious left. The activist shareholder investors in the choir loft, those affiliated with the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, were no exception. No sooner had the ink dried on the paper on which the encyclical’s printed than ICCR members hauled out the hyperbole. For example:

Nora M Nash, OSF: Laudato Sii (Be Praised) will rise up and the cry of Mother Earth will be heard once again from the Amazon Rainforest to the Tiadaghton Forest; from Navidad Bianco Shanty Town in Mexico to Rana Plaza in Bangladesh; from the Great Mississippi to the Three Gorges Dam; from the oil fields of Alaska to mines of the Central African Republic. A new “Canticle of the Sun” will promote dynamic engagement across our fragile global community.

And this hubristic howler:

Zevin Asset Management: Zevin Asset Management is proud to be joined by Pope Francis in our focus on the urgency of climate change. The Papal Encyclical is evidence of the universal nature of the problem and we are hopeful it will inspire universal solutions. We anticipate that it will direct more investors to take up the issue of climate change solutions in their investment decisions.

To which this writer can only respond (sarcastically, of course): “Wow, the Pope is climbing aboard the Zevin bandwagon? Well, it’s about time!” (more…)

Doug Bandow, member of the Advisory Board of the Acton Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, discusses the problem of politics with regard to Pope Francis’ recent encyclical.

In Calling on Government, Laudato Si Misses the Problem of Politics

by Doug Bandow

In his new encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis challenges “every person living on this planet” to adopt a new “ecological spirituality.” But his economic and policy prescriptions are more controversial than his theological convictions. Indeed, his ideas already are being deployed by political advocates. For instance, with the UN pushing a new climate agreement, Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, proclaimed that the encyclical “is going to have a major impact.”

The Pope’s commitment to the poor and our shared world is obvious and appropriate. Yet there is much in his practical arguments to criticize. When he speaks of spiritual matters his vision is clear. When he addresses policy his grasp is less sure. In practice, markets and property rights have much to offer humanity as it seeks to build a better, cleaner world.

Perhaps of even more consequence, the Pontiff ignores the flawed nature of government. He is disappointed with its present failings, but appears to assume that politics, unlike humanity, is perfectible. Thus, he hopes transferring environmental and other crises created by the flawed marketplace to the enlightened political realm will lead to the better world which we all desire.

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Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
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Brother Glum, Mother Earth
Steven Malanga, City Journal

The pope’s encyclical on climate change ignores how markets and technology have lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty.

Pope Francis’ Call to Action Goes Beyond the Environment
Ross Douthat, New York Times

After this document, there’s no doubting where Francis stands in the great argument of our time. But I don’t mean the argument between liberalism and conservatism. I mean the argument between dynamists and catastrophists.

Dear Pope Francis: Here Are Five Times Weapons of War Saved Christians
David Harsanyi, The Federalist

The Pope has been protected by the Swiss Guard since the 1500s— and those guys pack an array of high-powered contemporary weaponry to gets the job done.

The Greatest Good
Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Inspired to make a meaningful donation, I wondered: What is the best charitable cause in the world, and was it crazy to think I could find it?

In The American Spectator today, Ross Kaminsky critiques the economics behind Laudato Si’ and suggests that the pontiff’s ideas may do more harm than good.

Let’s be clear: The pope is no fan of capitalism, of the rich countries of the northern hemisphere, or of economic rationality. His desire to help the poor of the world is undoubtedly sincere but his policy inclinations are so poorly informed — both in terms of science and economics — that if implemented they would harm the very people he cares most about. Beyond economics, however, even the morality of Francis’s siren calls for particular international actions is questionable.

Kaminsky also cites Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg to explain why Pope Francis’s idea of an “ecological debt” has been discredited.
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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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