On May 30, James Patterson, professor of politics at Ave Maria University, gave a talk at Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as part of Acton’s lecture series events. During his talk, titled “Fulton J. Sheen: Anti-Communism and Catholic Patriotism,” Patterson discussed the life of the influential Catholic priest Fulton J. Sheen.
Sheen was primarily known for his popular books, radio broadcasts and Emmy Award–winning television show Life Is Worth Living. However, Sheen was also a deft and serious thinker on efforts to bring Americans in closer alignment with the Christian tradition, especially that of the Catholic Church. Beneath his wide smile and radio personality, Sheen was one of the most accomplished Catholic intellectuals in American history whose work deserves closer study. Sheen provided a strict yet friendly criticism of American economic and political life, providing a Catholic perspective of the American founding.
“Sheen’s Catholic reinterpretation of the American founding was that Catholics benefit from religious liberty that’s protected as part of the American founding,” said Patterson. Patterson’s new book, Religion in the Public Square, examines the lives of three political and religious leaders: Fulton J. Sheen, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Rev. Jerry Falwell, whose influence in the public square, and especially in media, popularized theology. You can watch the full lecture below and view Acton’s full event calendar here.