The Grand Rapids Press ran an excerpt of a letter that Acton Institute founder Rev. Robert Sirico wrote recently in honor of the now deceased William F. Buckley Jr. The letter recounts a meeting that Sirico had with the Conservative pundit in Cuba in some 20 years ago. One comment that was instructive from that letter was:
“Bill Buckley was as generous as he was intelligent and as humorous as he was cultured. I suppose that one of the secrets I learned from Bill Buckley in building a movement for human freedom was to be encouraging of other efforts pulling in the same general direction.”
Unfortunately, there is no reference to what kind of “movement for human freedom” that Sirico claimed that Buckley was helping to build. However, we do know what kind of “freedom” Sirico–who is the head the local rightwing “think-tank”–promotes. The Institute supports a so-called “Free Market” system and believes that such an economic system is consistent with the basic principles of Christianity. In practice, this has meant that the Acton Institute supported the Clinton Administration’s “welfare reform” the mid-1990s. Similarly, the Institute has take positions that coincide with the interests of corporations, such downplaying human causes for global warming and government action on the issue. This position has brought them funding from Exxon-Mobil. Additionally, the Acton Institute has received funding and support from the DeVos, Van Andel, and Prince families, who are well-known advocates for the free-market in West Michigan and beneficiaries of that system.
In the letter, it is interesting that Sirico cites his visit with Buckley in Cuba, since he has been an outspoken critic of the Cuban government under Fidel Castro. Sirico continues to share his thoughts on Cuba despite having no real credentials to do so. On February 19, Sirico was invited to speak on FOX News about the US embargo on Cuba and what the US should do now that Fidel Castro has stepped down. His comments on trade with Cuba are standard responses from corporate world about the need to open the Cuban market and that this will lead to more freedom for Cuba’s people. Sirico makes these claims without providing any evidence to support his position.