Summit Speaker: Fr. R. Sirico
Tim Drake chats with Fr. Robert Sirico, a speaker at the 2015 Legatus Summit . . .
2015 Legatus Annual Summit
Naples, Florida • Jan. 29-31
Father Robert A. Sirico received his Master of Divinity degree from The Catholic University of America. During his studies and early ministry, he grew concerned over the lack of training religious studies students received in fundamental economic principles. As a result, he co-founded the Acton Institute in 1990. He also serves as pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. Legatus editorial assistant Tim Drake spoke with him.
What have you been working on lately at Acton?
One of our more recent projects has been to produce a number of films that make the case for the moral potential of a free economy. The latest, which we have entered into a number of film festivals, is called Poverty, Inc. It looks at the way in which the real needs of the poor are ignored in favor of the interests of indigenous governments, Western governments and banks, and a whole series of NGOs, celebrities and international banking interests. It’s a provocative film that makes some uncomfortable points that are undeniable.
Pope Francis criticized “unbridled capitalism.” Has the U.S. media captured the Pope’s sentiments accurately?
The media usually misrepresents the Holy Father’s statements, unless they think a given point is useful for their own partisan purposes. It’s also true that most journalists see the world through a political lens. When you combine this with a general lack of knowledge of Church teachings, you end up getting a political analysis on the part of journalists, while the pope was offering a moral teaching.
What do you plan to address at the Summit?
I want to talk about the fundamental vocation of lay people in the world. One of the best-kept secrets of the Second Vatican Council is its insight into the way the sanctification and evangelization of the world has to take place through the action of the lay faithful, precisely as they build families and businesses.
How can the lay faithful best do this in their spheres of influence?
St. John Paul II spoke extensively about the New Evangelization and the essential role of lay people in achieving its goals. One of the most critical ways our society and culture can be re-evangelized is for lay people, equipped with a profound formation in the faith, to take that faith creatively and intelligently into their work. One of the Council Fathers said that what is needed is not so much a “Christianization” of the work place, but a “Christo-finalization” of our workplaces, that is, to bring human labor to its right purpose.
Would you agree that most lay work must be carried out at the grassroots, parish level?
Yes. The local parish is the first place that the lay faithful can receive the kind of formation I mentioned. But I was really speaking about the field of the work of the New Evangelization. That’s where the faithful have the greatest influence and competence: their work. Imagine if Catholic lawyers and politicians and judges and teachers and business executives and car mechanics and the like, were all excited about the faith, treating their work not as drudgery, but as a sacred vocation! Imagine what this would mean in bringing men and women, so deeply in need of meaning in their lives, to a right relation with Christ and his Church.