As alarm bells continue ringing for the coronavirus pandemic, governments have aggressively stepped up heavy-handed measures to flatten the curve of contagion – especially through forced social distancing. While surely beneficial to slow the pace of infection, such radical isolation has halted virtually all public gatherings and most private free associations at work, worship, school and private charities. Should such lock-down procedures endure for a much longer-term and with greater severity, what will this mean? Will our free associations head underground in flight from an encroaching ‘police state’?
This summarizes Acton’s Campus Martius seminar “The other ‘coronacrisis’: Are our free associations heading to the catacombs?” held March 24 on-line from Rome with special guest speaker Fr. Robert Sirico and discussion leader Michael Severance, who heads up Acton in Rome.
Campus Martius is a monthly discussion program organized by Istituto Acton for Rome students and thought leaders and normally held inside the Acton’s Rome office. However, lately this is impossible due the four-week closure of all non-essential business offices in Italy. So the first-ever “virtual” meeting of Campus Martiusv took place on Zoom with at least 80 participants loggin in from Paris, Munich, Budapest, Vienna, Pamplona, Warsaw, Tarnow, Sofia, Buenos Aires, Milan, Naples, Florence, Pisa, Turin, Modena, Bari, Sorrento, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, St. Lucia, the Virgin Islands, and even Vatican City.
Fr. Sirico discussed issues of civil liberties endangered by police state measures in force in Italy and elsewhere, especially in light of the theme of subsidiarity, free association, urgently needed innovation, and what our faith asks of us to help others in the current crisis. Fr. Sirico said asked participants to think: “What if we also brought to the equation the advantage of various regulations being relaxed? Look at how we have restricted and constricted the ability of people to serve other people simply because we have legislation. I see unions doing this all the time… We want [the most productive people in our society] to be more productive, more innovative. . . We [also] need to have a religious sensibility. This is our moment.”
Watch the seminar below!