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Pope Francis has frequently critiqued capitalism, most famously in his encyclical Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home. But is it true that a capitalist society cannot also be a society that cares for the environment and the poor? In this lecture, Professor Robert Whaples will cover the strengths of capitalism from an economist’s viewpoint, and then detail what Pope Francis sees as its failures. What can economists learn from the pope? What, in turn, can the pope learn from economists?

To hear a preview of Professor Whaples lecture, listen online or download the latest Radio Free Acton podcast.

This event will be livestreamed at 12:00 p.m. on May 17th for those who cannot attend in person. To view the livestream at that time, visit:


Robert Whaples, Ph.D.
Independent Institute

Research Fellow

Robert M. Whaples is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Co-editor and Managing Editor for The Independent Review, Professor of Economics at Wake Forest University, and Book Review Editor and former Director for EH.Net. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor Whaples is the recipient of both the Allen Nevins Prize and Jonathan Hughes Prize for Excellence in Teaching Economic History from the Economic History Association. A contributor to numerous scholarly volumes, he is the editor of the books, Pope Francis and the Caring Society, Future: Economic Peril or Prosperity? (with Christopher J. Coyne and Michael C. Munger), Public Choice Interpretations of American Economic History (with Jac Heckelman and John Moorhouse), The Routledge Handbook of Modern Economic History and The Economic Crisis in Retrospect: Explanations by Great Economists (with G. Page West III). He also edits EH.Net’s Encyclopedia of Economic and Business History. He and his wife Regina are Lay Dominicans.

Event Details

Start Date


Acton Institute | Mark Murray Auditorium
98 E Fulton Street
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
United States


11:30 a.m. Doors open
12:00 p.m. Lecture begins
12:30 p.m. Q&A
1:00 p.m. Lecture ends


$15 General | $10 Student
Includes box lunch and beverage

(Please RSVP at least 48 hours in advance to guarantee a box lunch)


Metered street parking is available. Please bring sufficient change with you for meters or pay for parking with the ParkMobile App on your smartphone (iOS and Android). 

Paid parking lots are also available nearby. Please enter building off of Sheldon Blvd.