What Fratelli Tutti Teaches Us About Economics

Franciscan Action Network hosted their third panel discussion on Pope Francis’s encyclical Fratelli Tutti. Focusing on its approach to economics, Millennial writer Meghan Clark and Anthony Annett discussed the encyclical’s central parable of the Good Samaritan and how each person takes on a different role in the story in their various stages of life. They also looked at how economic growth is measured and reported today, including who is left out of current metrics and how these metrics take equity and health into account.


Pope Francis Ally Cardinal Tobin on the Importance of the Hyde Amendment

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via Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin,  Archbishop of Newark:

I am deeply concerned that the proposed federal budget would eliminate the Hyde Amendment, which, for 45 years, has prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion. The Hyde Amendment is credited with saving the lives of millions of children. Now, the powerful pro-abortion lobby and members of Congress are calling for the elimination of this Amendment and the implementation of a policy that would designate billions of taxpayer dollars for elective abortions. Taxpayer-funded abortion represents a failure to recognize the sanctity of human life and promotes a culture in which human life in its most vulnerable moment is perceived as disposable. Such a proposal targets poor women as needing an expedient solution to a complex problem.

Pope Francis has said, “it is troubling to see how simple and convenient it has become for some to deny the existence of a human life as a solution to problems that can and must be solved for both the mother and her unborn child.” He notes that abortion “is not a primarily religious issue but one of human ethics.”

It is crucially important that we send a strong, clear message that the Hyde Amendment has far-reaching public support and should not be repealed.


Robert Schuman, a Father of Europe, Declared Venerable

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via Philip Pullella:

Pope Francis…put 20th century statesman Robert Schuman, one of the founders of modern Europe, on the path to sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church….

Schuman, who served as French prime minister and foreign minister in the immediate post-World War II period, also played a role in the founding of NATO.

In 1950 the “Schuman Plan” proposed a supranational community for coal and steel. It evolved to become the European Economic Community in 1957 and the European Union in 1993.

Along with Italy’s Alcide de Gasperi, France’s Jean Monnet and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer, he is considered one of the “Fathers of Europe” for promoting democratic, supranational principles to thwart the possibility of another war on the continent.

A devout Catholic, Schuman’s role in trying to break the cycle of wars in Europe has been praised by several popes.

Francis’ approval of the decree means Schuman now has the title “venerable”.


Fratelli Tutti on Racism and Anti-Racism

Franciscan Action Network hosted the second in a series of four panel discussions on Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, with panelists Olga Segura of NCR and Ralph McCloud of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. They discussed the encyclical and offered their thoughts on systemic racism and anti-racist efforts.


Reflections on the Fourth of July

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MSW writes:

One year ago, we knew that then-President Donald Trump had no compunction about desecrating the cultural norms that had come to surround our democracy: He insulted the press, he lied to the public (and more, way more, than most politicians lie), he tried to get the Department of Justice to function as his own private legal team. Trump made Nixon look clean.

But we did not know, and could not have known, that Trump would try and undermine the results of an election. And try he did. But for the courage and integrity of state election officials like Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, he might have succeeded. It still sends a shudder down my spine when I listen to the recording of Trump’s call to Raffensperger, when he tried to convince him to find enough votes to change the result.

States in which Republicans control the levers of government are now trying to rig future elections in ways that are truly frightening. The thing about democracy is that it presumes those who participate in it do so in good faith, that everyone is playing by the rules, that no one is trying to subvert it. That presumption is now in doubt in a way it has not been since the Civil War….

“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise,” said one of democracy’s most distinguished practitioners, Winston Churchill. “Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

I do not wish to try any other form of government. On this Fourth of July, it is my fervent hope that enough Americans will care to avoid putting that equation to the test, that our democracy will last a while longer, and that all of us will remember to do our bit to bolster and cultivate those habits of mind and commitments of heart that will keep it going.

Christine Emba writes:

The United States, as we are reminded every year around the Fourth of July, is an idea. Our country is not based on blood and soil, but on a promise of freedom and representation. Our 50 states form a union constantly in the process of being perfected. America is a nation founded out of dissent and discontent; the Declaration of Independence is a literal list of complaints.

And so, fellow Americans, look at flag protests, the 1619 Project, “critical race theory” and the removal of Confederate statuary from the Capitol — and consider them signs of affection, a persistent belief in the possibility of our country’s bettering itself….

Even those held up by conservatives as emulation-worthy examples of peaceful, patriotic Americans were in reality often critics of the sharpest kind. In the same “I Have a Dream” speech in which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described the Founding Fathers’ high-minded ideals as a “promissory note” on which America could still deliver, he called for a “whirlwinds of revolt” to “shake the foundations of our nation.” In between moments of uplift, King described America’s “vicious racists” and its “shameful condition.”

So what is this more modern critique if not an expression of love?…

But for Black Americans in particular, the act of complaint should rightly be seen as a remarkable expression of commitment. Despite being consistently underserved by — indeed, often excluded completely from — the American project, they remain determined to rehabilitate it, to make it live up to our creed.

It takes a more enduring faith — a more committed patriotism — to compare America to what it could be and to press it to do better than to abandon it altogether.

EJ Dionne writes:

Maybe the best reason to love the United States is that it’s a place where people are free not to love it.

In our country, criticism is constant, disagreement is perpetual, our understanding of our own history is constantly challenged. Every generation finds something — often many things — that previous generations left in a state of terrible disrepair.

Advertising’s “new and improved” trope speaks to a restless place where things are never good enough. We’re the land of new births of freedom, New Deals and New Frontiers.

We embrace patriotic symbols with such ferocity that our protests are frequently organized around them. Athletes who take a knee during our national anthem are wrongly described as disrespectful. On the contrary: They are taking the country at its word. If we’re going to sing that we’re “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” we ought to be that place….

Progressives love our country so much that we know it’s strong enough to acknowledge how racism, nativism, religious prejudice, and other forms of injustice and intolerance are embedded in our nation’s story.

True love can never mean pretending that the object of your affections is perfect, as Baker acknowledges. It means believing that the person or country you revere is capable of transformation — and having confidence that school kids won’t love their country any less if they’re taught honestly about its flaws, its failures and even its grave sins.

In the process, they’ll also learn about the courageous Americans who rose up to right wrongs, to battle smugness, to challenge oppression and to include everyone in the magnificent “We” that opens our Constitution.


Prophetic or Prudential Action?

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At Acting Franciscan, Stephen Schneck writes:

Prophetic or prudential action? As an advocate and activist for faith-based social justice, I struggle more about means rather than ends. My formation in the religious, moral, and social teachings of our faith offers much clarity about ideals. What’s uncertain is the path for progress toward those ideals.

Sometimes this is a question of inside versus outside. Sometimes this is a question of pursuing incremental change versus radical change. Sometimes this is a question of the extent that ends can ever justify means. Ultimately, though, these questions boil down to how “prophetic” versus how prudential to be for making progress….

I here publicly confess that I seem constitutionally predisposed to suspect the prophetic and to favor the prudential. I’m inclined to think that the perfect is more often than not an enemy of the good. I wonder too often that those choosing prophetic action over prudential just want to dodge the hard, grey, and often boring work needed to make incremental progress within the system. It’s glamorous to shout through a megaphone outside the White House; yet, rolling up your sleeves behind the scenes to win a few small provisions for the homeless in a housing bill is real toil. How naïve, unhelpful, and holier-than-thou those who reject working within the system must be, I sometimes think. Yes, I also easily convince myself that the path of prudential action actually achieves measurable progress while prophetic action seldom does and can too often spark counterproductive reaction.

Sunday’s readings, though, bring me up short. They take my breath away. Unmistakably, the message is that the prophetic is imperative.

Prudential action can never be sufficient in itself. It risks getting lost in the trees and losing sight of the forest, confusing means as ends. Prudential action without the judgmental vision of prophecy can too easily settle, can too easily accommodate itself to the status quo, and can too easily become complicit and compromised in its deferral to the system, traditions, existing laws, and even to our natural desire to be liked and approved….

The readings make clear that prophetic vision cannot be simply set aside if progress is to be made. Progress requires keeping our “eyes on the prize,” as the Civil Rights Movement put it so well. Prudential action is in many cases – and perhaps most cases, more efficacious for progress, but the prudential must always be directed by the prophetic and in service to the prophetic.


Pro-Life Democratic Governor Signs Law Ending Sales Tax on Diapers and Feminine Hygiene Products

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via the AP:

Louisiana women and families won’t have to pay sales taxes on diapers, tampons and other feminine hygiene products, under a bill signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards….

The measure will exempt diapers for children and adults and all types of feminine hygiene products from the 4.45% state sales tax and from any local sales taxes traditionally charged on those items. Women and families in the state buy about $249 million of those products each year, according to a nonpartisan financial estimate of the legislation.