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RCs vs. Libertarianism, Part II

National Catholic Reporter

Today, I conclude my comment upon the conference, “Erroneous Autonomy: The Catholic Case Against Libertarianism,” held last week and sponsored by Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, where I am a visiting fellow. Friday, I looked at some of the main themes of the conference. Today, I would like to respond to the criticism that we did not invite any Catholic libertarians to speak at the conference and float some ideas about what can and should come next.

When planning the conference, we discussed whether or not we should invite a speaker from the Catholic libertarian camp. If I were of a mind to be churlish, I would note that the Acton Institute has never offered me a speaking gig. But, I am not of a mind to be churlish and our reasons for proceeding as we did were different. As far as any of the conference planners could tell, ours would be the first conference that explicitly addressed the issue of libertarianism from the standpoint of Catholic Social Doctrine. We thought it was best to make a clear statement of the case, not to engage in a debate. Similarly, in the past two years, our Institute has co-sponsored a conference with the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services to highlight the issue of international religious freedom. We did not invite a representative of the Chinese government or the Castro regime to make apologies for their denial of religious liberty in their countries. When we hosted a conference on the death penalty last year, we did not invite advocates for the death penalty to speak. So, this charge that the conference on libertarianism was somehow illegitimate because we did not invite Catholic libertarians strikes me as an effort to avoid engaging the issues raised.