Rev. Robert A. Sirico — The Moral Case for Business
President, Acton Institute, USA
Business is the normative way in which people rise out of poverty, not state-to-state aid, not the largess of politicians and bureaucrats.
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Rev. Robert A. Sirico—Promoting a Free and Virtuous Society
Rev. Robert A. Sirico is co-founder and president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, an ecumenical non-profit educational organization devoted to the promotion of a free and virtuous society. Under his leadership, the Acton Institute has emerged as a leading voice in promoting understanding of private enterprise and market economies characterized by secure property and the rule of law – emphasizing their ability to provide opportunities for the poor to flourish.
Rev. Robert A. Sirico—Writings
Fr. Sirico's writings on religious, political, economic, and social matters have been published in a variety of journals and newspapers. These include First Things, Crisis, The Journal of Markets and Morality, Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, London Financial Times, Washington Times, and National Review. He also has written chapters for several books including Man and Marxism (1991) and A New Worldly Order (1992). In 2001, several of his essays were published in Italian as a collected work under the title, Il personalismo economico e la società libera. Fr. Sirico’s books include The Soul of Liberty (2005) and The Entrepreneurial Vocation (2003), the latter of which became the core for The Call of the Entrepreneur, a documentary that aired widely on PBS.
He also has worked closely with several departments of the Roman Curia. As co-editor of The Social Agenda: A Collection of Magisterial Texts, an authoritative compendium of Catholic social doctrine, he collaborated with the book’s publisher, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Rev. Robert A. Sirico—Media Appearances
Fr. Sirico has often been called upon by the BBC, CNN, ABC, FOX News, FOX Business Channel, NPR, and other news organizations for statements regarding economics, morality, and issues of religious concern. He has been quoted in major news publications both domestically and internationally, and is a regular commentator on politics and economics for EWTN, the global Catholic television network.
In addition to these media activities, he has lectured at colleges and universities throughout the United States and abroad. His speaking engagements have included lectures in Central and South America; Western, Central, and Eastern Europe; Australia; New Zealand; and South Africa. He also is a frequent guest lecturer for such business organizations as Legatus (an organization of Catholic chief executive officers), and various corporate groups.
Rev. Robert A. Sirico—Ministry and Education
Fr. Sirico was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on May 13, 1989. His pastoral ministry has included a chaplaincy to AIDS patients at the National Institutes of Health, and has worked with, written on, and advised faith-based charities for some two decades.
Since 2001, he has served as the head of a new Catholic community of priests, St. Philip Neri House, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This community is formed in the spirit of John Henry Cardinal Newman. Fr. Sirico is also pastor at St. Mary’s Church in the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
In addition to undergraduate study at the University of Southern California and the University of London, Fr. Sirico received his Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America. In April 1999, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in Christian ethics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, USA. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in social science from the Universidad Francisco Marroqiun, Guatemala. In 2010, the Board of Directors of the Instituto de Pensamiento Estratégico Ágora A.C., Mexico, awarded him its Legion of Liberty Award.
Fr. Sirico is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Mont Pèlerin Society, the Philadelphia Society, the Academic Council of the Center for Institutional Analysis and Development in Bucharest, and is on the board of advisors of the Civic Institute in Prague. He has been a guest lecturer at the International Academy of Philosophy in Liechtenstein, the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland, and the summer program of the Universitie d'Aix-en-Provence in France. Fr. Sirico also served a four-year term on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1994 to 1998.
Rev. Robert A. Sirico on Overlooking the Capacity of the Poor
It’s so often the case that when people come from the developed world to the developing world and they see the wretchedness of poverty in such close proximity, they experience a kind of a guilt about their own prosperity and translate that guilt into policies that fail to recognize that these people are made of the same stuff as the people in the first world, that they have the same capacity that enabled the developed world to be so prosperous in the first place.
Rev. Robert A. Sirico on Liberation Theology
I think it’s a very dangerous temptation to yield to, to think that the State is our liberator, or that the State is the foremost and first vehicle by which the poor are protected, or that people who are in bondage are made free. The movements of the 1960s and the 1970s, especially in Latin America, in the form of Liberation Theology, which was essentially an effort to baptize Marx, I think, involved, to a very large extent, Roman Catholic, religious missionaries, priests, nuns, many of whom had very good intentions in terms of helping the poor. But they adopted a way of thinking – a certain taxonomy – that can only result in the increase of state power, of bureaucratization, and then eventually the marginalization of moral influence. The State is not the savior. And for those believers who are concerned about the poor, to worship the State in the name of the poor, I think they are making a very sad mistake.
Rev. Robert A. Sirico on Business as the Path Out of Poverty
When markets can expand within a juridical framework, with an ethical system at the center, the poor can rise out of poverty and have access to goods, to services, to employment, and to all of the things that a prosperous society can afford.
Rev. Robert A. Sirico on The Benefit of Business
The argument has been made that global capitalism, or the expansion of free markets, by its nature hurts the poor, and I think that is a seriously untutored idea. The way in which people rise out of poverty is not through state-to-state aid, not at the generosity or behest of bureaucrats, no matter how well intended, no matter how good personally these people may be. But it’s through the opportunities that people have in their families, in their localities, to exchange value, to be involved in business. Business is the normative way in which people rise out of poverty, not state-to-state aid, not the largess of politicians and bureaucrats.