Monday, June 11, 2007
RETURNING TO FATHER ROBERT SIRICO
Susanna has sent in many links to information about this priest, much of which confirms what has been written by Tom Herron in his Culture Wars article. One of the most significant pieces was this one titled "G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy Day on Economics: Neither Socialism nor Capitalism" by Mark and Louise Zwick, which was delivered to the American Chesterton Society at their annual conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2001.
From that talk comes the following passage:
There has been much discussion of the new Mandatum for theologians, a requirement from the local Bishop to authorize them to teach in the name of the Church. We need a Mandatum to ensure that the economics taught in Catholic universities will reflect the social teaching of the Church, and specifically this condemnation of neo-liberalism, which has not even begun to be explored by Catholic economists. The economics taught in Catholic universities should be different from that of secular economists. Ellen Rice told us that when she recently got her MBA from a secular university, they taught her to be a robber baron. Unfortunately, the economics taught in Catholic universities is quite similar.
Groups like the Acton Institute, a Catholic-Calvinist libertarian-capitalist group, defend themselves from the condemnation of neo-liberalism by saying they are the good guys-they are for good capitalism rather than bad capitalism and the condemnation could not possibly apply to them. Fr. Robert Sirico, head of that institute, like Michael Novak and Fr. Richard Neuhaus, speaks of how God is creator and so is the capitalist, that God blesses all efforts to create. These men advocate the freedom to create wealth with no standard or interference from the State or from God-and they fund and give courses to seminarians, priests and ministers, teaching that this is the highest ethics.
The talk describes in detail the Catholic position on economics--distributism--which proposes a capitalism that provides the means of livlihood through private property for each and every man, not just for the gatherers of wealth who make wage slaves out of the rest of humanity. It's a compelling position.
Meanwhile Acton Institute is in the process of educating seminarians in their faulty Catholic economics according to their website:
Toward a Free and Virtuous Society Conferences designed for seminarians and other future religious leaders, these conferences offer an introduction to the moral foundations of personal and economic liberty. By combining an in-depth treatment of economic principles with principles of social justice and anthropology, Toward a Free and Virtuous Society seminars focus on applying the foundational ideas of economic liberty to complex issues such as poverty, welfare reform, and globalization.
So, if you hear the ethics of the robber barons preached from the pulpit, you might consider whether the priest spouting them has been exposed to the economic philosophy of Father Robert Sirico.