From the New York Times:
Rev. Robert A. Sirico, a Catholic priest and the author of “Defending the Free Market,” says that the importance of unions in Catholic teaching is historically contingent. It matters, Father Sirico said, that Pope Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum” was written in 1891, not today.
“In the industrial revolution, the church was concerned about communism, and not just capitalism but savage capitalism,” Father Sirico said. “People were being brutalized. That’s just not the case in Pittsburgh today.”
Besides the rather obvious fact that capitalism still brutalizes, Fr Sirico is so wrong on so many points that it is hard to know where to begin.
The Church has always supported labor unions, not because of some localized problem, not because of some temporally contingent circumstance, but because of natural law, and because of the primal social virtue of solidarity.
In 1891, Pope Leo XIII wrote that the proliferation of unions was “greatly to be desired.” In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that unions “have always been encouraged and supported by the church.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was even more clear in a 1986 pastoral letter: “No one may deny the right to organize without attacking human dignity itself.”
I am so weary of this clerical mountebank’s kissing the ass of the corporatocracy. A man of fluid identity- Pentecostal revivalist, homosexual activist, gay clergyman, Catholic priest- somewhere along the line, after reading Ayn Rand, he got the bright idea that it would be a good gig to serve the interests of corporate wealth. So, funded by Calvinist businessmen in Grand Rapids, he founded the Acton Institute and dedicated his life to dissembling and distorting Catholic social teaching in an effort to reconcile it with free market ideology. The project would be laughable were it not for the fact that the generosity of his corporate backers allows him to buy influence, and, among other things, to offer free junkets to his conferences to Catholic seminarians. That’s right, fully paid weekends in luxury hotels. The only cost? Allow yourself to be seduced by the false gospel of libertarian economics. I don’t know how many current priests have gotten their ideas about economics at the feet of the Acton Institute, but the Church in the US has taken a palpable rightward turn in recent years.
Fr Sirico’s influence has been huge in this country and has directly undermined the Church’s mission.
And of course what really grates is that if Vatican norms had been observed he never would have been ordained.
Lord have mercy.