Book Review ~ Defending the Free Market

Defending The Free Market – The Moral Case for a Free Economy
The Rev. Robert Sirico
Publisher: Regency Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-59698-325-0

When I started to read this book I had a notion in my mind of how we could best help the poor in our neighborhoods after all we have been doing it for almost three years now.  After reading this book, I am not so sure.

The Reverend Rober Sirico, President of The Acton Institute, lays out for us in great detail a new way of thinking about economics, health care, and support for the poor around us.  I say a new way of thinking because he does not condemn what is happening now, in fact in many ways, he clearly lays the blame right at the feet of the Church.

Fr. Sirico begins with his story and how he came to think the way he has.  From the streets of Brooklyn to the streets of Washington, DC he refined he thoughts on issues using Scripture and the long standing Jeudeo-Christian principles that American was founded on.

The most striking of the chapters has to be chapter three, Want to Help the Poor?  Start a business.  Fr. Sirico tells the story of working in a soup kitchen during his days of seminary and coming to the realization that this system may in fact be hurting more than it is helping.  By not asking questions, and feeding everyone, are we in fact hurting the local economy, this is just one of the questions I have not only after the Acton Institute but after reading this book.  Are we doing the right thing?

Surprisingly Fr. Sirico is hard on the Church and associated institutions.  He asks the question how the institution of the Church can criticize the government if we take the governments money.  The focus has shifted from true philanthropy to government subsidized charity.  He makes the case that we need to return to a true sense of what charity is actually for.  We need to return to the sense that all of humanity is created in the image and likeness of God ad is unique and unrepeatable.  This is the entire theme of this book.

The final chapter of the book asks the same question that I had, what does the church know about economics and the like?  The parable of the Good Samaritan is used as an illustration to point out that he needed more than good intentions to help the poor beaten man he needed money.

In the end we are asking the wrong the question.  We should not be asking how to we help the poor but rather how we create wealth.  Like I stated at the start, it’s a new way of thinking.

About the Author:

Rev. Robert A. Sirico received his Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America, following undergraduate study at the University of Southern California and the University of London. During his studies and early ministry, he experienced a growing concern over the lack of training religious studies students receive in fundamental economic principles, leaving them poorly equipped to understand and address today’s social problems. As a result of these concerns, Fr. Sirico co-founded the Acton Institute with Kris Alan Mauren in 1990.

As president of the Acton Institute, Fr. Sirico lectures at colleges, universities, and business organizations throughout the U.S. and abroad. His writings on religious, political, economic, and social matters are published in a variety of journals, including: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the London Financial Times, the Washington Times, the Detroit News, and National Review. Fr. Sirico is often called upon by members of the broadcast media for statements regarding economics, civil rights, and issues of religious concern, and has provided commentary for CNN, ABC, the BBC, NPR, and CBS’ 60 Minutes, among others.

In April of 1999, Fr. Sirico was awarded an honorary doctorate in Christian Ethics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and in May of 2001, Universidad Francisco Marroquin awarded him an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences. He is a member of the prestigious Mont Pèlerin Society, the American Academy of Religion, and the Philadelphia Society, and is on the Board of Advisors of the Civic Institute in Prague. Father Sirico also served on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1994 to 1998. He is also currently serving on the pastoral staff of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Fr. Sirico’s pastoral ministry has included a chaplaincy to AIDS patients at the National Institutes of Health and the recent founding of a new community, St. Philip Neri House in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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