PopeWatch: Father Robert Sirico

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Hattip to Father Z.  Father Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute has first rate questions about the economic portions of Evangelii Gaudium  in the video below:


PopeWatch is happy to see a fair amount of very good commentary regarding the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation coming forth.  It will be interesting to see if the Pope clarifies any portions of Evangelii Gaudium based upon this flood of commentary.

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  1. My Impressionistic impression is that the Curia has done a magnificent job of pulping the rotting carcass of the dead horse known as laissez faire capitalism (ca. 1776 – ca. 1929; died after a long illness).

    I’m pretty sure there’s a strawman or three in there as well, but it’s kind of hard to tell, what with all the goo.

  2. As a Catholic who likes hierarchy probably better than most, I just wish that those men would stop speaking beyond their areas of competency, because in these areas, their unsubstantiated opinions are not expert, or sacred; they are as valuable as yours or mine, aka worthless.

  3. Jesus would not have overturned the money changers tables in the temple if He had found true love of neighbor in the business transactions of the money changers. Jesus found the pursuit of profit, instead of the practice of virtue. Offering a benefit to the needy and receiving full value in return, is a corporal work of mercy and a blessing at the same time.
    Obama has no concept of fear of the Lord and his voice rings as an empty gong as He manipulates Holy Scripture to serve his own evil agenda.

  4. …laissez faire capitalism (ca. 1776 – ca. 1929; died after a long illness)
    –Ernst Schreiber

    I question your claim that what you call “laissez faire capitalism” ever existed. Define your terms and point to historical examples.

    Just as Chesterton said of Christianity, that it has not been tried and found wanting but rather that is has been found difficult and not tried, so it is of the free market. People find the free market difficult, it requires thinking for oneself rather than having a Mommy State tell one what to do, so most people go running to the State begging to be enslaved.

    Therefore all the elders of Israel assembled and went to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “…appoint a king over us, like all the nations, to rule us.”
    –1 Samuel 8:4-5


    You do remember these Scriptures being read at Mass, I do. And what was the answer to the people’s request for a king?

    Samuel delivered the message of the LORD in full to those who were asking him for a king. He told them: “The governance of the king who will rule you will be as follows: He will take your sons and assign them to his chariots and horses, and they will run before his chariot. He will appoint from among them his commanders of thousands and of hundreds. He will make them do his plowing and harvesting and produce his weapons of war and chariotry. He will use your daughters as perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He will take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will tithe your crops and grape harvests to give to his officials and his servants. He will take your male and female slaves, as well as your best oxen and donkeys, and use them to do his work. He will also tithe your flocks. As for you, you will become his slaves. On that day you will cry out because of the king whom you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you on that day.”
    –1 Samuel 8:10-18 (emphasis added)

    So many people today are just as foolish as those Israelites, despite having the knowledge of what happened to the Israelites recorded in the Scriptures.

  5. Paul Primavera has done an excellent job, first, of alerting us on Thanksgiving, of the ” possible” translation problem of Evangelii Gaudium, but more specifically in its so called “economic section”. Today, in the above post, he provides a link to a very solid site providing a more accurate translation from the original Spanish document.

    I am emphasizing this, because before we can begin to comment etc on the document itself, or discuss Fr. Sirico’s gentle but poignant questions, the issue of translation is extremely important

    In reading the newer, unofficial translation, provided in the above link, I am both relieved and concerned. I am relieved to discover that those responsible for translating were inhibited by a real working knowledge of Spanish and not driven or clouded by some ” ideological” agenda, no matter how slight. However I am also concerned. I am concerned that the translator(s) who apparently have English ( and I would add: American English) as their first language, do not have a full grasp of Spanish ( Here. I mean ” from the inside”, how it is really lived, breathed and spoken). As someone who has studied two languages ( besides my native American English of course)-one for twelve years- I can tell you that being able to speak/ translate from within the language is extremely important. ( After 12 years of French I still do not feel I really communicate within the language). To bring my point to its conclusion, it is essential that the Vatican comes to fully realize this important aspect of translation lest the translator and translation betrays the author and original text.

    Having said this, I find the discussions found here and there among knowledgible folks and experts on the new Exhortation very enriching and enjoyable. On a blog such as this where there is a general discussion on such matters, people bring their insights etc and frequently, sources such as this translation problem, or Donald bringing Fr Sirico and the Acton Foundation on the economic issues. I would mention a great post concerning the Exhortation on the Liturgy. This post was written by Jeffrey Tucker at Chant Cafe, and brought out some very substantive and even provocative questions in dialogue with the Exhortation and Pope Francis.

    I mention this post as an example of how committed Catholics can grow and be enriched in dialogue with other committed Catholics. I participate in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. I am rooted there. Nonetheless, I was delighted when Pope Benedicy published his Motu Proprio enabling those who are or desired to be rooted in what he calls the Extraordinary Form to do so. I do not consider EF Catholics less Catholics ( although I have felt the opposite sometimes). I find discussion among committed Catholics- and we are actually very diverse ( here I am speaking of genuine diversity, not dissent etc) despite what we might commonly think or believe. Returning to my point, Chant Cafe offers a very deep sense of Liturgical Music, ozone which sometimes emphasizes the EF. I find no problem with that. Why? Because the conversation goes deeper than perceptions, preferences and, yes, I will say it, prejudices. I have found this at the Acton Institute and am a regular reader there. Notice also that I like American Catholic. I don’t always agree etc that’s fine. However, where I find committed Catholics, not conservatives, liberals, etc. I am home.

  6. Our “preferential option for the poor” must translate into asking ourselves “so, what is the preferable option for the poor?” but only after we refute the commonly held belief that Market Man is “fallen” while Government Man is “immaculately conceived”.

  7. For Micha:

    laissez faire capitalism (aka “the free market”) 1776 (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations) to ca. 1929 (stock market collapse resulting in the Hoover depression that Roosevelt later made “Great”) died after a long illness (everything from Karl Marx to John Maynard Keynes, but probably foremost the Progressives’ penchant for seeking to rationalize everything) is what I had in mind.

    We’re in essential agreement. The point I tried to make, perhaps too obliquely, is that the free market was regulated to death a long time ago. Almost before living memory, in fact. But still people complain that the problem with the market is not enough regulation.

  8. tamsin,

    The ” preferential option for the poor” cannot and must not be identified with any socialist-Marxist doctrine, although there are those from both ideological extremes who seek to do so. It means what Christ meant in opening the scroll in the synagogue at Nazareth which read, ” The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, therefore He has anointed Me to proclaim the Good News to the poor, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, a year of favor ( Jubilee) of the Lord” ( Luke 4; Isaiah 61). It means reaching out to those on the margins, those who know they need salvation.

    No human system, Marxist, market, nor any form of government is not “fallen” and as you put it ” immaculate”thus the radical need for Christ and His Gospel

  9. Mark Shea may deconstruct conspiracy theories if he wants. Michael Jones and others catalog facts about the background of Sirico. I agree Mr. Jones has a lot to say. I do not agree with all of his work. What is presented in this exchange however, is just the factual data on Sirico’s background. If you have not heard it before, you really need to have a listen. The information is backed up with sources. It his hard to argue with clear data when valid references are provided. It is worth knowing the truth in any case. May God bless all of you!

  10. I am not concerned with his past but believe it should be made plain to everyone. Not everyone is aware of the background of this man. What you should be concerned with is this. Who is he working for? Have you figured out who funds the Acton Institute and who set it up? It is all in the link provided earlier.

  11. Someone with Fr. Sirico’s history should not have been ordained (and the Acton Institute is an odd apostolate). That having been said, that in and of itself does not establish that the Acton Institute has been promoting anything problematic.

    As for E. Michael Jones, he was once an engaging social critic but went completely off the rails several years ago. Herron has long done a remarkably faithful imitation of a malicious character whose targets are various figures writing in defense of Church teaching (because they’re ‘neo-cons’ dontcha know). He’s actually offered defenses of Maureen Dowd betwixt and between.

  12. laissez faire capitalism (aka “the free market”) 1776 (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations) to ca. 1929 (stock market collapse resulting in the Hoover depression that Roosevelt later made “Great”

    No. The economy began a rapid recovery in the Spring of 1933 and production per capita had returned to what would be expected from long term trends by 1941.

  13. Have you ever noticed how some people – particularly those with a liberal progressive bent – demand that we be ever so forgiving and loving, and yet they suspend the application of such an admonition to themselves when discussing a man like Father Sirico who is a conservative proponent of free market economics. I would wager that if he were a proponent of the false gospel of social justice, the common good and peace at any price, then his history as a Pentecostal pastor who married homosexuals who be all forgiven and forgotten, and any conservative who would dare to bring such to light would be condemned as being intolerant, unforgiving, hateful, mean, spiteful, divisive, unkind and the ultimate liberal progressive Democrat crime – not nice.

    Well guess what! I am NOT nice and I love Father Sirico’s work and I pray and wish for him and the Acton Institute every success in turning the tide of this insane Marxist idiocy that infects everything from the Papacy on down. I hate, despise, loathe, detest, abhor and hold in utter disdain and disgust this godless, prideful, arrogant attitude that with just the right amount of government sponsored social justice financed by my tax money and yours, mankind can create on his own the Kingdom of God on Earth. That is unmitigated male bovine manure – putrid, fetid hubris of the highest order – that deserves only one place: the fires of Gahanna.

    OK, enough of a rant this morning. Sorry, folks.

  14. You need to read up on this man’s history. He was certainly a bad bet in 1989 and Pope Benedict’s articulated standards would have inhibited his ordination were they in place and respected. As far as I know, there have been no post-ordination scandals concerning Fr. Sirico, so it has not worked out badly. Sometimes, you get lucky. Based on the information set available in 1989, you might have thought his assignment record would come to resemble that of Paul Shanley, and you only make decisions prospectively.

    Although I have seen these matters brought up by peace-and-justice Catholics, that’s not their primary concern with regard to Fr. Sirico and his associates. These types adhere to an inchoate notion of political economy which fancies there is something dirty about advocacy on behalf of the market economy (which they misapprehend and caricature). Some of them refer to papal encyclicals (without giving any indications about how the principles enunciated therein are to be operationalized), others seem to think the writings of Ayn Rand are the inspiration for Republican social policy, others fancy free trade is some sort of social malignancy for all parties, others make vague references to Chesterbelloc, and others slide into discussions of ‘Americanist’ heresies and ‘masonic’ institutions.

  15. “He was certainly a bad bet in 1989…”

    I was a bad bet in 1989, and should have been ejected from the nuclear power industry for a variety of reasons. Of course, being a nuclear engineer at an operating 1000 MW reactor doesn’t exactly carry the same level of responsibilities as being a priest does. Fortunately, my employer was willing to forgive me (so long as I did certain things to pass the scrutiny required by Regulation).

    Matthew 18:21-22 – 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

  16. “You need to read up on this man’s history.”

    I have not read it though it seems from what you intimate that he has homosexual temptations.

    I don’t know when Benedict’s standards were put in place (you seem to say after Sirico was ordained.) If that’s the case, then perhaps Providence brought him to orders before the standards (Augustine anyone?)

    Here’s something about gay marriage issue from Sirico:


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