Acton U 2014: Day 1

The day began for some of us with Holy Mass in the older, traditional Roman Rite.

Breakfast is being consumed.


Interesting line up today including talks on social justice, freedom of conscience, biblical theology of law.


Getting Social Justice Right with Ryan Anderson.


I enjoyed the phrase:

“Social Justice” is a catch word for something that I want and therefore the government should provide.

I would add: With someone else’s money.


Participants are checking out one of the many book tables.


A view across the river from the center toward the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum/Library. I checked it out a couple years ago. Very interesting!





Q&A after talk about Monasticism and Markets, the propositions has been raised that churches could drop tax-exempt status and then engage in virtuous enterprise as a better way to create income and then have more resources to carry out their mission.

Also, Norcia was mentioned!  Great beer.  They are having an impact on the town.

Producing and selling things can be a way of serving people.


Judge Andrew Napolitano is our lunch speaker today. He is speaking on whether we still have a constitution in these USA.


Don’t take the battery out of your phone. I want President Obama and the NSA to hear everything I going to say!



I was scheduled for Judge Nap’s talk I the first afternoon session. He is a talented teacher.


Now I am in the second session with Scott Hahn.



One of our Orthodox priest colleagues has produced this!


Since there are drink tokens for the event’s bar, we have started a black… errrr… alternative market.




The priest’s son is trading tokens for cigars.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. LarryW2LJ says:

    You know you’re in the right conference when the topic is “Freedom of Conscience”, because when you’ve walked into the wrong conference the topic is “Freedom FROM Conscience”. :-)

  2. KevinSymonds says:

    When I was studying Christian Social Teaching at Franciscan University, I had a really good professor who taught it like it was. Ever since then I have taken much interest in this topic.

    I will never forget that he defined social justice as a virtue. That framed it very well.

  3. acardnal says:

    Speaking of books, you need to write one, Fr. Z!

    I suggest collecting your posts on the Sunday Collect prayers.

  4. Kathleen10 says:

    Books! It is a wondrous thing, new books all lined up like that.
    It sounds like a fun and interesting conference. Social justice will be interesting to hear about from your perspective after the talks. Thus far, social justice seems to be only opening the border and providing amnesty to the globe. Not impressed.

  5. Peggy R says:

    As a free marketeer Catholic, I’d love to attend. Alas, for a few years now I have been an unemployed mom who also has a new puppy to train.

  6. wanda says:

    Have a great time, Fr. Z. (I think pretty highly of Judge Napolitano!)

  7. Priam1184 says:

    I love the bit about ‘monastic economics’ so to speak. The monasteries of the post-Roman world were both a spiritual and an economic driving force for their local areas after the Imperial system went out of business, and since they were often connected to other monastic houses further afield they provided opportunities for trade as well. Virtuous enterprise would do a lot of good in our world today. Thanks Father, and Viva Norcia!

  8. SKAY says:

    I am looking forward to every post about this conference. Thank you Father.

    “Don’t take the battery out of your phone. I want President Obama and the NSA to hear everything I going to say!”
    I know Judge Napolitino meant that too.

  9. jeffreyquick says:

    Speaking of “social justice”, as somebody fluent in Latin and Italian, just what did the actual term used by Luigi Taparelli mean? I don’t have an issue with the social teaching of the Church (which is fundamentally WWJD?), but the term is nonsensical, as justice requires a moral agent. and society isn’t a moral agent. Maybe we need What Did The Theologian Really Mean?

  10. benedetta says:

    Excellent, Fr Z — let the battery stay in — the elites and the powers that be have an obvious need for better information.

  11. Elizabeth D says:

    Are they including poor people in these discussions? That would contribute some much needed perspective that they are not going to get from just capitalists and libertarian ideologues who see themselves as virtuously motivated. I have never seen any solutions such people had for someone like me.

    The churches as businesses idea is not a very good idea for general application because evangelization does need to be joined to a spirit of evangelical poverty. It also attaches the risks of doing business to the church, rather than the model we have always had of lay people doing business and tithing the fruits of that for the support of pastors and good works, a model under which the Church actually NEEDS the lay people and their sacrifices, rather than being economically self sufficient in itself. What poor person is going to feel the same stake in their church if it is taken over by ambitious capitalists who think money and business solves everything? There is a place for monastic businesses and the Carthusians selling Chartreuse, but in my area we had the “Lasermonks” Cistercians whose business went under and their monastery folded. In the Middle Ages monasteries had great landholdings and this was not without instances of corruption; the Church did discern in the 13th c or so that evangelization and the pursuit of holiness was going to be better served by mendicant orders–and they also sometimes were paid laborers, but not capitalists. This is partly a historical reality but some of the reasons for evangelical poverty are perennial and Gospel based. Let laypeople form nonprofit (or for profit) business organizations and then donate liberally to the works of the Church. The Church’s ministers should focus themselves on Christian ministry (and live frugally).

    [Great economies and human flourishing grew up around monasteries.]

  12. Abe says:

    Our daughter had breakfast at your table, Father….enjoying all your updates on the conference. Thank you!

  13. acardnal says:

    Non-drinkers have an important role in free market economies: Bartering.

  14. I hope you had more than just coffee for breakfast, Father. Man does not live on Mystic Monk alone, although I daresay man could come pretty close to it.

  15. Dienekes says:

    Quote: The monasteries of the post-Roman world were both a spiritual and an economic driving force for their local areas after the Imperial system went out of business, and since they were often connected to other monastic houses further afield they provided opportunities for trade as well.

    I like that. I went to 4 years of Catholic high school at a Benedictine monastery in the late 1950s. I was an extremely indifferent scholar but soaked up a lifetimes worth of atmosphere that has lasted. I too would trade tax-exempt status and institutional timidity for sturdy monasticism anytime.

    A good read is Rodney Stark’s “The Victory of Reason”, which discusses the Church’s contributions to Western civilization–now endangered by the culturally ignorant.

  16. jflare says:

    Fr Z,
    Did you hear much discussion of the probable pros and cons of dropping tax-exempt status and operating like a business? It sounds like a proposal that has some merit, but more detractions than benefits. Among other things, operating a church like an average business might well require providing some sort of product for purchase frequently, then charging sales tax.
    Off the top, that sounds like a breeding ground for abuses of many sorts.
    What sorts of thoughts did people at the conference express in this regard?

    For all that I understand your point about how business and evangelization frequently don’t work so well together, I would like to notice that in many cases, even a very poor wage provides more help than no wage. If someone can even receive a few dollars, they can begin to pay their own bills and develop some amount of self confidence.
    Then again, I grow nervous about a church that declares itself to cater to the “less wealthy”. Too often, that means that the parish focuses too much on “social justice” concerns and not enough on Catholic practice and prayer.

  17. frjim4321 says:



    I would enjoy the company but the speakers are a little to far out for my tastes.

    Enjoy it, though.

  18. benedetta says:

    Oh look here is Frjim4321 styling himself as a political moderate LOL…

    The market/monasticism is certainly intriguing Father Z.

  19. Random Friar says:

    Have you slimmed down, Fr. Z? You look more svelte!

  20. Mike says:

    “a little to far out for my tastes”

    Far out from what? Rerum Novarum? Quadragesimo Anno? Centesimus Annus?

    Far out how?

    What do one’s individual tastes have to do with Catholic social teaching?

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