I sat down in front of a microphone and an open Skype line recently to engage in a wide ranging discussion with one of the most interesting thinkers in America today, Father Robert Sirico, founder of the Acton Institute. The main topic was a remarkable new collection of short documentary films called PovertyCure. If you love both freedom and the poor, you’re going to want to watch this film series. Of course, if you’ve listened to any of my other interviews, you already know that we did not remotely stay on just the assigned topic. Some highlights of the hour-long interview have been transcribed below for your convenience.
Jerry Bowyer: “Father Robert Sirico, founder of the Acton Institute and one of, is I think, one of the most significant thinkers in our country today regarding the relationship between faith (particularly the Christian faith) and economics. The project we’re going to focus on today is PovertyCure which is a six-part documentary, a film festival, and in many ways more than that, a movement. Father Sirico is here with us to talk about it. Father, thank you so much for joining us.”
Fr. Robert Sirico: “I’m so glad to be with you, Jerry. Thanks for having me.”
Jerry: “Let’s talk a little bit about PovertyCure. Where did this idea come from? What was the original conception of PovertyCure?”
Fr. Sirico: “From the inception of the Acton Institute, which was now 24 years ago, we have always been concerned that economic education–a real understanding of how a market functions–will first and foremost help the most vulnerable, so we’ve done various things over the years to attempt to demonstrate or teach or model that for people. And a number of years ago we were talking about what really helps the poor… Obviously, what helps the poor is access to work. But as we looked into the good intentions of so many people, we see that a lot of them just think that solidarity with poor people means giving them things, and from our understanding of how markets function (and from our understanding of human beings), you really find that human beings themselves are the producers of their own wealth and of their own way out of poverty. What we try to do, and what we have now I think beautifully accomplished in this DVD series, is show–very often from the mouths of the poor and also experts–how wealth is created, and the nature of people even in the middle of their poverty to be creative and produce more than they consume. That’s what’s called wealth: When you produce more than you consume.”
Jerry: “Otherwise you’re just foraging.”