Acton University: Day 3

Today is the last day of Acton University sponsored by the Acton Institute here in Grand Rapids, MI.  This is an annual meeting.   Some 392 people are here for the conference from, I am told, 51 countries.   It is sponsored by Acton Institute.

We are still going strong, but it is starting to wind down.  

Today, the final day, took me to the following sessions:

Liberation Theology presented by Fr. Robert Sirico
Pope Benedict XVI and His Vision for Europe by Samuel Gregg

Then, after lunch, where I sat with another Catholic blogger, Fr. Rob Johansen of Thrown Back, I attended:

This afternoon I will be interviewed on the Catholic radio with Al Kresta, who has been live at the site this week.

I some first impressions.

  • The support staff for the University has been incredible!   Not only are busy and competent, they are cheerful and helpful!  If you have a question, they hop to and try to help.
  • The sessions were restrained in respect to time.  They started on time and ended on time.  The presenters followed their syllabus very closely and did not stray from their topics.
  • Presenters acknowledged what they did not know and were very respectful of people asking questions.
  • Socially, this is a very mixed group, many different religions are represented.  
  • The young people here are quite inspiring.  And there are a lot of them!  They are bright, interested, ambitious, and, most of them, good looking!  If conservative faith-filled young people out there want to meet people their own age, could come to this event!  (Lot’s of smart good-looking young Catholics!)
  • I haven’t regreted any of the sessions I choose.  It would be good to do this again and get into some more advanced things.  I learned alot. 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gregg says:

    “The support staff for the University has been incredible! Not only are busy and competent, they are cheerful and helpful! If you have a question, they hop to and try to help.”

    Considering the treatment they are receiving at the University of St Thomas, maybe the Chesterton Society should move their annual conference to Grand Valley State.

  2. Geoffrey says:

    Thank you very much for alerting us to this organization, Father. I had never heard about it before. It sounds really fascinating. Thank you also for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Angelo says:

    Here, it would be worth to pause & ponder the words of Pope St Pius X:
    He was speaking about the a 19th Century movement in France called the
    Sillon. He could have very well been speaking about ACTONE.

    “When We consider the forces, knowledge & supernatural virtues which were necessary to establish the Catholic City & the sufferings of millions of martyrs & the light given by the Fathers & Doctors of the Church and the self-sacrifice of all the heroes of charity & powerful hierarchy ordained in Heaven and the streams of Divine Grace . . . the whole having been built up, bound together & impregnated by the life & spirit of Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God, the Word made Man . . . when We think, I say, of all this, it is frightening to behold new apostles eagerly attempting to do better by a common interchange of vague idealism & civic virtues. What are they going to produce? What is to come out of this collaboration? A mere verbal & chimerical construction in which we see, glowing in a jumble & in seductive confusion, the words of liberty & justice.

    The Pontiff asks us what are we to think of a Catholic who, on entering his study group, (or think tank), leaves his Catholicism outside the door so as not to alarm his comraes who, “dreaming of disinterested social action, are not inclined to make it serve the triumph of interests, coteries & even convictions whatever they may be.”?

    He goes on to provide the answer: “No, Venerable Brethren, We must repeat with the utmost energy in these times of social and intellectual anarchy when everyone takes it upon himself to teach as a teacher and lawmaker – the City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it; society cannot be setup unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants. OMNIA INSTAURARE IN CHRISTO.”

  4. Le Renard says:

    Young people here are quite inspiring. And there are a lot of them! They are bright, interested, ambitious, and, most of them, good looking! If you conservative faith filled young people our there want to meet people your own age, you could come to this event! (Lot’s of smart good-looking young Catholics!)

    Okay, could you kindly re-state the above?

    In particular: “If you conservative faith filled young people our there want to meet people your own age”

    I think this may have been written in haste, which is quite understandable given the circumstances.

    All I could make out is perhaps the gist of it being:
    “If you’re young and single, consider coming to this event coz lot’s of hotties here.”


  5. Padre Steve says:

    I am interested in what they had to say about Liberation Theology. I spent 2 years of my theology in Guadalajara and they certainly had move interest in this branch of theology than did those of us from North America!

  6. Boise says:

    I’ve seen Father post Dr. Gregg’s name a few times. Last year Gregg had published a very interesting article in the Ave Maria Law Review about St. Thomas More and, shall we say, the situation in England between 1529 and 1535. It is worth the read, and I hope you can find it:

    Samuel Gregg, Legal Revolution: St. Thomas More, Christopher St. German, and the Schism of King Henry VIII, 5 Ave Maria L. Rev. 173 (2007).

  7. Glad you’re having a good time, Fr. That’s not my cup of tea, but it takes all kinds of interests to make the world go round, I suppose. Happy travels.

  8. RichR says:

    JPII harshly admonished Liberation Theology, and Ratzinger frowned on it as well due to its Marxist ties. He mentioned this is a couple of his books. I know it was popular among the Jesuits, but fell out of popularity after the papal criticisms.

    What am I missing here?

  9. Sharon says:

    I think that Dr Samuel Gregg is an Australian; so of course he is an intelligent speaker! lol

  10. pjo says:

    Neocats speak!

    In keeping with the communities’ usual practice, Communion will continue to be received under both species and will be distributed by ministers in the assembly, instead of the procession of the faithful typical in the Roman rite.

    This practice is kept in the definitive statutes, but for the reception of the Host, the faithful will stand before the minister. This is not the case in receiving the Chalice, which will continue to be received SEATED, to avoid spilling the precious Blood.

    Kyrie eleison!!!

  11. Virgil says:

    RichR, you aren’t missing anything at all. Talking about Liberation Theology is very different from supporting Liberation Theology.

    There are dozens of topics that receive reams of discussion among Catholics and other Christians of our times. Much of the discussion is merely partisan posturing, with little investigation of real belief. (e.g. the Marxist rhetoric of Liberation Theology)

    What I find most inspiring about Acton is that they look at these topics seriously, and evaluate them on grounds of belief: (1) traditional Judeo-Christian understandings + (2) a libertarian approach to governance. Wrap these together, and you get a pretty simple, and in my opinion true, philosophy. WE NEED TO ENCOURAGE VIRTUE, NOT RELY ON GOVERNMENT TO DO IT FOR US.

    Hence, the problem with Liberation Theology, which relies on Revolution (even violent revolution) as the means to virtue.

    Hence, the problem with many right-wing issues raised by other readers in the last series of Acton posts.

  12. Be careful.. Before you simply accept the word “virtue,” define it. There are a number of ways to do so.

  13. berenike says:

    \”a libertarian approach to governance\”

    Which is, unfortunately, quite at odds with the Catholic approach to governance.

  14. Dear sister Catholic from Michigan,
    as I complimented you on an earlier thread: you’d have made a good Catholic School teacher! I can hear the sharp rap accompanied by comicbook alacrity now: THWACK! Perhaps there are Tim Russerts around the world today being inspired by your Sr Lucille-like admonshments: “Too much energy, young man, you need to channel it!” (she put the miscreant in her charge in charge of the student newspaper at his junior high) We’re all adults here – please grace us with your mature wisdom on what you personally recommend we define as “virtue” that we may enter a dialog of mutual respect and understanding?

    For example, I await your response on meritocracy, absolute truth and justice?

  15. It’s an ancient philsophical question. No point in becoming nasty, Clare. What do you think virtue is?

  16. Virtue, as Absolute Truth does not beg definition by mere mortals, sister Catholic form Michigan. It is as Acton announced the event on its PowerBlog:

    “ … what is virtue if not the free choice of what is good?”
    — Alexis de Tocqueville

  17. What we mere mortals can, nevertheless, debate (as Acton’s dictum inspires us to do: “study religion and liberty”) are the terms of the definition: free choice and what is good, to help us comprehend the duty incumbent in being fully human, to act with the courage of love.

    Consider the query I posed earlier re: “practice” defined by Alisdair MacIntyre, as it relates to the pharmacists vocation of merchandising(*) medicinal preparations

    “If you are a health-care professional, you are bound by professional obligations,” said Nancy Berlinger, deputy director of the Hastings Center, a bioethics think tank in Garrison, N.Y. “You can’t say you won’t do part of that profession.” This is not fair or balanced. It’s political. Stein is leaving readers with a subtle but unmistakable message: Duplantis and Semler seek to impose their Catholic morality on others, while Nelson and Berlinger are operating from altruism.
    cited from “An old anti-Catholic device” posted by Mark Stricherz at

    How do we debate “conduct unbecoming a human being” if we cede ground to the secularists by accepting such patently absurd notions as “professional obligation” defined and debated in private by ‘activist’ professionals? Where is liberty of “freedom of assocation”?
    What good requires a professional “obligation”?
    We Catholics MUST become more savvy in the ways of the world to countermand the tyranny being imposed on us from the relativists. Here’s an example where market disciplines could and should be allowed to develop the ‘practise’ of pharmacy:
    You want to support the sale of contraceptives? Fine. Patronize the stores that hire only those pharmacists willing to limit their own liberty by choosing to serve only folks like you, and advertize that fact as part of their competitive advantage (ludicrous, yet buyer beware, some firms such as WalMart already serve as outposts of Chinese hegemony, that’s how they get away with offering no health insurance, they sell their drugs at dollar store ‘made-in-china’ prices). The rest of us (Catholic or not) will purchase our pharmaceuticals at our local pharmacy, none the wiser on who asked their physician for Viagra, since virtuous pharmacists defend the common good of personal privacy, in much the same way a virtuous priest heals the sin-sick soul behind the seal of confession, by merchandising medical preparations in a nice white paper bag, but safe in the knowledge that the preparation is lead-free, heparin safe, etc. etc.

    * see
    for Rx =
    recipe in latin, a physician’s imperative to a patient to “Take” the remedy prescribed.

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