Acton University 2015 came to a close last night with a plenary address from Rev. Robert A. Sirico. We invite you to view the full address via the video player below.

Self-described “lunatic farmer” Joel Salatin took over the podium last night at the Thursday night plenary session of Acton University 2015 and delivered an engaging and interesting address to the gathered attendees. We’re pleased to share the video of Salatin’s presentation with you below.

pope plantToday’s Washington Examiner has a piece that says “conservatives” are slamming Laudato Si’, the new papal encyclical released yesterday. “Slam” may be too strong a word; though there is plenty of vigorous discussion regarding the encyclical.

Acton’s director of research Samuel Gregg is quoted in the Washington Examiner piece, and while he is clearly concerned about portions of the encyclical, he does not “slam” this work either.

It tends to characterize free markets as unregulated, which is simply untrue. It also seems to blame markets for so many social ills which may perhaps in the case of developing countries reflect that they don’t have free markets,” Samuel Gregg … told the Washington Examiner.

Gregg said some of the rebukes of the free market system stem from the pope’s Argentine upbringing. He noted the government and religion are more intertwined in Latin America, where states often operate robust social spending programs with an eye toward alleviating poverty. Detractors of such policies have noted the systems prevent foreign investment and trade while awarding handouts to cement political patronage.

The entire piece is available here.

In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, Fr. Robert Sirico writes about the encyclical, the role of free markets and the need for continuous conversation about the environment:

Let’s cut to the chase: Much of what is in Pope Francis’ encyclical on environmental stewardship, Laudato Si’, poses a major challenge for free-market advocates, those of us who believe that capitalism is a powerful force for caring for the earth and lifting people out of poverty. But one of the most welcome lines is a call for honest, respectful discussion.

Read the full text here.

Blog author: bwalker
Friday, June 19, 2015
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Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change unveiled at Vatican – video

‘Laudato Si’,’ an Overview
Zenit News Agency

At the heart of the Pope’s reflections is the question: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” The answers he suggests call for profound changes to political, economic, cultural and social systems, as well as to our individual lifestyles.

Pope Francis Using Twitter to Bring About Global Dialogue He’s Called for on Climate
Zenit News Agency

Being able to promote the encyclical through Twitter is undoubtedly one of the occasions in which it is “right to rejoice in these [technological] advances and to be excited by the immense possibilities which they continue to open up before us, for ‘science and technology are wonderful products of a God-given human creativity'”

President of US Bishops’ Statement on ‘Laudato Si’
Zenit News Agency

Genuine efforts to true dialogue will require sacrifice and the confronting of good faith disagreements, but let us be encouraged that at “the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us…he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward” (245). May we help answer Pope Francis’ call in this encyclical, receiving his message and growing in responsibility towards the common home that God has entrusted to us all.

Carbon week: The church of climatism
Nigel Lawson, Financial Post

How is it that much of the Western world, and Europe in particular, has succumbed to the self-harming collective madness that is the climate change orthodoxy? It is difficult to escape the conclusion that climate change orthodoxy has in effect become a substitute religion, attended by all the intolerant zealotry that has so often marred religion in the past, and in some places still does so today.

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glass ballWho could have predicted, six months ago, what the encyclical Laudato Si’, would hold in store? Seems like Jennifer Roback Morse could.

In a January 2015 piece for The Daily Caller, Morse made some predictions that turned out to be spot on.

 I do not know what he is going to say. Neither, dear reader, does anyone else you are likely to read. However, I can tell you two things that he will certainly not say. And those two unsaid things have the potential to speak volumes, if only we will listen.

  1. He will certainly not say that overpopulation is the cause of any environmental problem. This old trope will be completely absent from the Holy Father’s document.

  2. He will certainly not say that contraception, abortion or sterilization, voluntary or involuntary, are necessary components of any comprehensive solutions to environmental problems.

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laudato_siSamuel Gregg, Acton’s director of research, writes in The American Spectator today about Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical which addresses environmental issues. Gregg says that part of the encyclical’s intent is to add to the global discussion regarding the environment and to the climate change debate. However, Gregg believes that the encyclical, rather than enlightening, is muddying the waters.

To be sure, there is much about today’s global economy that merits criticism. The encyclical rightly underscores the problem of bailing out banks at everyone else’s expense (189). Does anyone doubt that, if the world faces another series of major bank failures, governments will behave in exactly the same way, thereby reinforcing the moral hazard problem that’s at the root of so much of the financial sector’s on-going dysfunctionality? The encyclical also suggests, correctly, that despite the events of 2008, there has been a major failure to reform the world’s financial systems (189). Likewise the pope’s tough words for those who regard population growth as somehow damaging the environment and impeding economic development are spot-on (50).

Nonetheless, many conceptual problems and questionable empirical claims characterize the encyclical’s vision of contemporary economic life. In terms of environmental degradation, Laudato Si’ appears oblivious to the fact that the twentieth century’s worst economically driven pollution occurred as a result of centrally-planned state-industrialization schemes in former Communist nations. Anyone who’s visited Eastern Europe or the former USSR and witnessed the often-devastated landscape will quickly attest to the validity of that insight.

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Wednesday was the first full day of Acton University 2015, and it ended with a plenary session featuring Gregory Alan Thornbury, the President of The King’s College in New York City. Thornbury’s address was preceded by an introduction by Acton Institute Research Fellow and associate professor of theology at The King’s College, Anthony B. Bradley. We’re pleased to present the evening’s program here on the PowerBlog for your edification.

Alexis_de_tocqueville_croppedWhat is social justice? Is it a vision of a perfectly just society? Is it an ideal set of government policies? Is it a particular theory or practice? Is it a virtue? A religious concept? A social arrangement?

In a lecture at Acton University on his forthcoming book, Social Justice: What It Is, What It Isn’t, Michael Novak sought to answer some these questions with a particular framework around intermediary institutions.

Offering a broad survey of the term’s origins, history, and modern use and application, Novak countered modern misconceptions of social justice (e.g. as another word for equality), and sought to outline a definition that’s (1) connected to the original understanding, (2) ideologically neutral, and (3) applicable current circumstances.

Leaning first on Pope Leo XIII for an original understanding, he proceeded to channel Alexis de Tocqueville, describing social justice in terms of our activity in basic, day-to-day associations. This begins with religion, of course, which “dominates our hearts,” he said, without the support of the state, and in turn, transforms our orientations and imaginations toward citizens, institutions, and law. With this as the basic order of things, social justice begins when the individual rightly understands his relation to God, and proceeds to engage with civilization accordingly. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, June 19, 2015
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Magna Carta: The birth certificate of the rule of law
John Steele Gordon, AEI

The Magna Carta, thought a dead letter two months after it was written, lived on to become nothing less than the birth certificate of the rule of law.

Are You Christian? Forget About Doing Yoga!
Pravoslavie.ru

The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church reacted to the UN’s decision to designate June 21 as International Day of Yoga in 2014. The Holy Synod’s statement says that the practice of yoga has “no place in the lives of Christians” since it is a fundamental aspect of Hinduism and as such is not considered a “form of exercise” but of worship!

The Return of Catholic Anti-modernism
R. R. Reno, First Things

n this encyclical, Francis expresses strikingly anti-scientific, anti-technological, and anti-progressive sentiments. In fact, this is perhaps the most anti-modern encyclical since the Syllabus of Errors, Pius IX’s haughty 1864 dismissal of the conceits of the modern era.

House panel advances rider to block Internet rules
Mario Trujillo, The Hill

The House Appropriations Committee approved a funding bill Wednesday that includes a policy rider to block newly implemented net neutrality rules temporarily.