Rev. Robert A. Sirico at the 2019 Acton Annual Dinner
Acton Institute Powerblog

Rev. Sirico: How to heal soul, body and economy after a pandemic

The government-focused debate over how to emerge from the coronavirus shutdown has been too dismissive of faith and private initiative, says Acton Institute President and Co-founder Rev. Robert A. Sirico in a new radio interview.

In a wide-ranging discussion on Respect Life Radio, hosted by Deacon Geoff Bennett, Rev. Sirico began by outlining a wholistic response to the global pandemic.

The public square has been dominated by three competing competencies: science, economics, and faith, he says. “The extremes that people can take in any of these three categories” can lead people to conclude that:

[T]he only thing that matters is the science and the models. Certainly that matters, but it’s not the only thing that matters, because human beings aren’t just patients. … They’re also people in communities. They’re also transcendent beings that have an intrinsic dignity and relationship with other people and with God.

“Likewise in the church,” he said, some “become so extreme in their piety” that they disregard science and spread the contagion.

However, the greatest imbalance has been between private initiative and bureaucratic control.

“Why did we think of the central government as the first to act?” he asks. “Regulations and taxation, and … the dominance of the political element of society keeps the elite in control and doesn’t involve the intelligence of the community as a whole.”

Dn. Bennett said the combination of shutdown orders and the often-arbitrary classification of business activities has created a mixed economy that could be described as “socialism-lite.”

“I don’t think it’s ‘socialism-lite’ anymore,” Rev. Sirico replied.

Rev. Sirico goes on to address the two words he associates with every church during this pandemic, his proposal for an economic stimulus that unleashes the creative energies of the free market, how the Incarnation of Christ sheds light on pandemics, the reason economics exists and what he tells those who come to him for confession about how to handle the shutdown.

You can listen to the full program below:

If you prefer to listen to podcasts on an iPod or similar device, you can download the MP3 here.

You may download additional episodes of Respect Life Radio here or here.

(Photo credit: Acton Institute)

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson is Executive Editor of the Acton Institute's flagship journal Religion & Liberty and edits its transatlantic website.