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Acton Notes - November 2008

Acton Annual Dinner Underscores ‘Authentic Liberty’

This year’s Acton Annual Dinner provided encouragement and motivation for those who champion economic freedom and religious virtue. The dinner took place at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel on October 30 in downtown Grand Rapids. Speakers included Acton president Rev. Robert Sirico, Acton Cook Fellow Fernando Coronel, National Review’s Washington editor Kate O’Beirne, and keynoter Rev. John Nunes. Nunes is the president and chief executive officer of Lutheran World Relief. The late William F. Buckley was honored with the Faith & Freedom Award, and Kate O’Beirne accepted the award, which she followed with poignant remarks that paid tribute to Mr. Buckley.

Rev. Sirico declared in his address “never in Acton’s nearly twenty year history has our message been more essential than right now. As an institution that cherishes the free and virtuous society, we are living through this thing with all of you, and we need your help to continue.”

He also added: Liberty is a delicate fruit. It is also an uncommon one. When one surveys human history it becomes evident how unusual, how precious is authentic liberty, as is the economic progress that is its result. These past few weeks are a vivid and sad testimony to this fact. As a delicate fruit, human liberty as well as economic stability must be tended to, lest it disintegrate. It requires constant attention, new appreciation and understanding, renewal, moral defense and integration into the whole fabric of society.

Rev. Nunes spoke from the biblical text of Proverbs 17:5, which reads “He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.” Rev. Nunes said that “Lutheran World Relief helps people create their own lasting image.” He also added, “What gives me satisfaction is seeing the difference in communities and knowing the people themselves from the community itself has forever changed its future.” Rev. Nunes also said that “the best of LWR reflects an embodiment of the best thinking at the Acton Institute.”

Seattle FAVS Educates Attendees

Since 1990, the Acton Institute has worked tirelessly to promote a free and virtuous society, and it has used a number of different educational conferences to advance this cause over the past eighteen years. Acton’s Towards a Free and Virtuous Society Conference, FAVS, was the first of these. The event seeks to educate future religious leaders about the importance of sound economic thinking and foster a mindset that promotes virtue and liberty.

The FAVS program has grown and changed in its nearly twenty-year history. Dozens of FAVS have taken place across the country and around the globe. The most recent of these occurred last month in Port Ludlow, Washington. Twenty-five seminarians and graduate students joined Acton faculty at the Port Ludlow Inn situated on Puget Sound, just twenty miles from Seattle.

After arriving in Port Ludlow, the participants spent the next three days attending ten in-depth lecture sessions to buttress their existing theological understanding with sound free-market economics. An accomplished faculty led them in this endeavor. Lecturers included Fr. Paul Hartmann, judicial vicar of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Mr. Michael Miller, director of programs at the Acton Institute, and Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, senior fellow of economics at the Acton Institute.

Several attendees lauded the manner in which the conference was held and the ideals that Acton promotes. To add to this, surveys showed that 100 percent of the students expressed an interest in attending another one of the institute’s educational conferences, and more than 90 percent of the students said they would recommend the FAVS experience to a friend or colleague.

Leverage Your Acton Support

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Acton Institute has the opportunity to triple donations received from now until January 15, 2009, through a matching grant.

The grant matches 2-to-1 the first $5,000 of each gift, and matches 1-to-1 the remainder of the gift. One way to consider helping us meet this incredible challenge is to give a gift through your IRA or retirement account.

This is especially helpful if you are facing mandatory disbursements—which are heavily taxed —but do not need the additional income at this time.

This opportunity is made possible by recent legislation within the Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Anyone age 70½ or older may distribute directly to a public charity up to $100,000 without the distribution being included in taxable income, and the distribution will count toward the account owner’s mandatory withdrawal amount.

Please act quickly to help us leverage your generous contributions to the Acton Institute. As always, your gift will help us promote a free and virtuous society. With your involvement and the help of others, we can realize the full potential of this matching grant opportunity.

If you have any questions related to the matching grant or giving through a retirement account, please contact us at (616) 454-3080.

Acton Hosts Cook Fellow Fernando Coronel

The Acton Institute is privileged to have Cook Fellow Fernando Coronel working with us in Grand Rapids through February of 2009. Coronel is from Guayaquil, Ecuador, and is a student at the Catholic University of Guayaquil, where he will graduate with a law degree in 2010. He has already significantly contributed to Acton’s mission by visiting high level Catholic clergy in Latin America, and as a discussion group leader at Acton Univesity.

Coronel spoke at the Acton Annual Dinner in October, 2008. “Liberty is truly at stake in Latin America, where populist movements with totalitarian views are consolidating in the region,” said Coronel. He also declared, “With the assistance of faith and reason, liberty directs us back to our Creator who made us in his own image.” He praised the church in his own country for standing against foes of human dignity and human freedom. Coronel also noted at the Annual Dinner:

Only wealth creation and economic growth reduces poverty. Economic development can only be achieved through the spread of individual liberty, entrepreneurship, rule of law, limited government, market economics, and respect for private property. These are not magic formulas, rather they are a mechanism of proven success.

At twenty two years old in Ecuador, Coronel co-founded a popular television program that offers interviews with leading religious and political figures of the day. He was also the author of a weekly column for the oldest newspaper in Ecuador, which was discontinued when the paper was taken over by the Ecuadorian government. He now has a guest column in Diario El Universo, the most important and respected newspaper in Ecuador. While in Grand Rapids he will be working with the Acton Institute on several special projects related to rule of law and limited government, and also working with the Acton staff on several important Latin American projects.