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Sirico speaks

For those of you interested in the libertarian "Tea Party Catholic" spin on Evangelii Gaudium, here's a short talk by Robert Sirico, accessible on the Acton Institute website:


About the Author

Robert Geroux is a political theorist.



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Thoughtful reflection, thanks for the link.   Puts the lie to the whole "panicked Old Guard" thing.

Sorry, I couldn't listen to any more than five minutes of Sirico's pedantic right-wing deconstruction of Papa Francesco's inspired attack on unbridled market capitalism - Evangelii Gaudium, indeed!

This Sirico guy, who's not too swarmy in his promotion and marketing of his right-wing think-tank's [right-wing think-tank, isn't that an oxymoron???] swill, is obviously in some gastronomical distress when it comes to the economic critique of capitalism of our new pontiff.

[I'm sure that at Sirico's Acton Institute they see nothing but Sandinista red rats!]  

I noticed that on the Wikipedia site of his Acton Institute - of which he is at pains to tell us he is the founder - Sirico is pictured with the all-purpose right-wing icon Ronald Reagan.  A picture is worth a thousand words - and it tells us exactly where Sirico's head is at.

What this Sirico guy really demonstrates quite convincingly is just exactly what Papa Francesco is up against in his struggle to release the church's hierarchy from the grip of right-wing ideologues after so many decades of Wojtyla's and Ratzinger's feckless pastoral leadership.


I would not expect panic among members of the Acton Institute. After all, according to definition panic is “a sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior”.

But, I would expect some degree of “uneasiness” with the content of the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis from the author of a book that deals with moral case for the free market economy and it promotion as “the” best way to deal with poverty in the world.

The fact that he makes a point of saying that he does not find “irksome” (annoying) what Pope Francis has written calls forth analysis that a skilled counseling psychologist would be able to interpret better than I could.

There is so much confusion on this subject. Don't most liberals support capitalism. It is when it becomes laissez faire that it becomes dangerous. N'EST-CE PAS? 

We regulate outrageous interest rates as in the unconscionable pay day loans. We stop monopolisitic mergers as when AT&T wanted to merge with T-Mobile. Finally, we are going after the big banks. Tho the CEO's should be criminally prosecuted. Not just fined. 

The problem occurs when people keep an apartment in Manhattan for 50 million which they never use, while many people work three jobs and cannot make it. Estate taxes, were well regulated at one time. Now they are loosely curtailed.  Quite unjust. 

Francis is railing at those who have excess while not caring about those who have none. Augustine and his African bishops wrongly taught that riches should be given to the churches who will take care of the poor. Money should be allocated directly to the poor. Not for building basilicas. How can we educate the wealthy when we encourage them to give the 187 million to renovating St. Pat's? It is like Basilicas si. The poor no!!

So the Vatican needs reform as well as Wall St. While all good Christians want solicitous aid to the poor, no one  should want communism nor socialism. 

I have a hard time wrapping my head around economic theory and principles and read the Pope's comments (which I understood probably because they were stated in a broader context) and listened to Sirico as well.

I really don't care whether an economic theory is right, left, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, etc. etc. The only question is, can it produce jobs?

I live in Northern Ontario where lumber mills and paper mills have completely shut down leaving behind ghost towns. Those who could move did but it disrupted whole communities, impacted families with partners working in other provinces and areas.

I don't know what the solution is but it is more helpful to hear concrete, tangible solutions than some of these theories floating out in the air that seem totally disconnected from a pretty important area of people's lives.

Sirico talks about the rule of law, well how about minimum wage laws, or at least living wage. Many jobs being created now are minimum wage or just above. And there is an increasing divide between the haves and the have nots.

I don't even watch the business news because it seems like a parallell reality. How is it possible that the market is going up and when I receive my statement from my mutual funds, I am lucky if I have earned over 1%. Before, I worked at a non-profit so had a self directed pension.

It is so depressing that I have just stopped looking and just keep going because presumably, according to my advisor, the people who manage it are shifting it around and the market has been tough everywhere! Well not when I flick on the business news. Everyone I talk to has the same experience as me. And yet, I keep hearing about how strong the market is???!!



Where is the Catholic League's outrage?

Rush Limbaugh bashes Pope Francis.

Where is the Catholic League's outrage? It is directed at the critics of Rush's criticism:



You scooped me. Unbelievable.  Now it's time for my outrage.


I mention “panic” because the theory that the “old guard” are panicked by Pope Francis has been espoused by Commonweal, but I think that’s more wishful thinking than anything else.

I agree with you that Fr. Sirico appears mildly uneasy about some of the ideas Pope Francis puts forth with respect to free markets (as am I), but I think that unease is as much based on the possibility that we might be missing something important as that Pope Francis is.    I think that’s how it should be (though I must say I rarely see the far left open to that possibility).

Very anxious to hear more from Francis!


Have I missed something?  Where on Commonweal did a post say that the "old guard" are panicked?

David Gibson:   You're on.

I agree Sirico's speech is deserving of a fair amount of attention if not study.  He slides between "yes" and "no" with only the slightest bit of unease.  Clever.  One is never certain at which point in a bit of selling which of the two may serve best.  He seems to pose a rather vexing question and quickly sets the listener's unrest at ease by providing not an answer but a suggestion of an answer.  His deep and abiding sincerity is answer enough, of course.  Near heavenly patronization.  His care for our feelings is so sincere he wishes not to cause distress.  So much so he comforts our concern for the poor by reminding us of that most charitable of thoughts...well, they are poor but they could have it  worse! 


For me the most distressing part of Fr. Sirico's ideology is that he claims that capitalism is THE best way to combat poverty. He tries to sugarcoat the goal of capitalism, which is to make MONEY not contribute to the common good and a moral/just society.

He preaches that “a free economy actually promotes charity, selflessness, and kindness” and that “free-market capitalism is not only the best way to ensure individual success and national prosperity but is also the surest route to a moral and socially-just society.” One might say that those ends are unintended consequences.



Just speaking for myself: I've found that completely ignoring the Acton Institute, EWTN, the Catholic League and Rush Limbaugh pretty much has no downside.


This piece on the First Things blog, by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, is interesting reading for people like me who don't find popes very persuasive when they venture into the realm of economics.  Headline: "Let's Listen to Pope Francis on Economics"


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