The Catholic University of America

University President John Garvey was quoted in an Ave Herald story and a Christian Post story on the passing of Michael Novak, distinguished visiting fellow, business, who passed away Feb. 17, 2017. 

Andreas Widmer, director of entrepreneurship, published commentary in the Washington Post and Crux on Novak.

Catholic News Service quoted both President Garvey and Andreas Widmer in their obituary.
President Garvey and Catherine Pakaluk, assistant professor, business, published remembrances in National Review.
Max Torres, Centesimus Annus Della Ratta Family Foundation Endowed Professor, business, published commentary on Novak in Our Sunday Visitor.


Michael Novak taught a generation of Catholics that capitalism can be virtuous

From:The Washington Post
Date: Feb. 18, 2017
Author:Andreas Widmer

... Novak showed me that, with the right checks and balances (including law, a free press and “an alert public opinion jealous of its moral inheritance”), the free market is not (or need not be) a system of victims. It’s a system of action, which I help shape with my choices, and with what I choose to participate in — or not.

Not until much later did I come to realize that Novak’s ideas about the free market, democracy and public moral culture had changed the world, forming the intellectual firepower for the revolution of 1989, and having an influence on then-Pope John Paul II. The now canonized pontiff invited Novak to meet with him several times as he was formulating his own thoughts about economics and freedom, later captured in his powerful social encyclical, “Centesimus Annus.” Novak always said that of all the many honors he’d received over his long career, the one he was most proud of was that John Paul II had publicly called him “my friend.” ...

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Why Michael Novak was a true American gentleman

From: The Crux
Date: Feb. 19, 2017
Author:Andreas Widmer


... When I eventually met Michael in person, I was surprised at his humble demeanor. He was soft-spoken, kind, disinterested in himself - a true American gentleman. Discussions with him always led me to self-discovery and even our disagreements helped me grow.
When I was asked to help establish the new business school at The Catholic University of America, I believe it was because of the integration of my Catholicism and business knowledge, an integration I first learned from Michael Novak.
Mine is but one of thousands of stories of how Michael influenced and mentored people. Giving of himself to others was his great gift. And this great, genuinely Catholic mind, will continue giving to us through his more than 50 books.
I will miss Michael: his joyful presence, the challenging discussions, his incredible charm, and his poignant observations. But our best tribute to him is to carry on his work, to imitate his spirit. ...


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Michael Pakaluk, professor, business, published an essay in on Novak in The Catholic Thing. See below.

Remembering Michael Novak

From: The Catholic Thing
Date: Feb. 20, 2017
Author: Hadley Arkes, Michael Pakaluk, Robert Royal

... "He was a wounded teacher. He carried with him wounds of love, for his dear departed wife, Karen. “Not a day went by when he didn’t proclaim to everyone who would listen the beauty, joyfulness, and virtue of his late wife, Karen Laub-Novak,” a student wrote. This love infused itself into all his relations with colleagues and students. In the classroom, he would above all want to teach about charity. This was the theme that made him most animated, most impassioned.


He loved his students. He praised them, encouraged them, wrote letters on their behalf, found internships for them, hired them as assistants, promoted their careers, and invited groups of them to spend weeks with him at his summer home in Delaware. Above all he delighted in them. One of them explained: “If he thought you were beautiful, he would tell you – and because of him, every woman in Ave Maria knew that she was beautiful. The way he looked at people, especially women, as each being beautifully created and infinitely valuable, was genuine, sincere, and something we should all strive for.”

He was that teacher and friend who was disponible in Marcel’s sense. “He was always inviting students over for dinner. We read poetry together, watched movies, drank manhattans, and often just chatted. Once he came on his golf cart to the local coffee shop and asked me what I would like, and we sat and talked about everything and nothing. He knew how to spend time well and cultivate friendships,” I heard from a student. ...



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Jay Richards, assistant research professor, business, published commentary on Novak in the Catholic World Report. See below.

Michael Novak, Rest in Peace

From: Catholic World Report
Date: Feb. 17, 2017
Author: Jay Richards


... "After a battle with cancer, Ambassador Michael Novak passed away this morning, February 17, at home, surrounded by his family. He was 83. During his last months, we at the Busch School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America were blessed to have him as a colleague.

I am one of many people whose lives and careers were changed by his groundbreaking scholarship. I remember the exact moment I discovered his work, in 1992. I was Presbyterian at the time (my family and I would enter the Catholic Church in 2009), and was attending Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. Very little Catholic theology found its way into the curriculum, but faculty made an exception for liberation theology. I thus found myself reading Gustavo Gutierrez’s book A Theology of Liberation — yet again — for a class on social ethics."  ...


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Michael Novak- In Memoriam 

From: National Review
Date: Feb. 21. 2017
Author: John Garvey and Catherine Pakaluk


... "In 1958 Michael Novak came to The Catholic University of America as a young man to study theology. He was a seminarian for the Congregation of the Holy Cross, discerning his vocation. More than half a century later, he returned to Catholic University, this time as a distinguished visiting fellow at the Busch School of Business and Economics. Novak began and ended his academic career as a member of the Catholic University community. I think these bookends provide an important insight into his remarkable intellectual contributions. Novak made important contributions to theology and philosophy. He wrote about the American Founders and baseball. He was a novelist and poet. But his great masterpiece was The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism."


"I believe it is one of those experiential proofs for the immortality of the soul that we can say what seems utterly impossible: that Michael Novak has passed from this life. When I heard the news, I was sitting in a hospital room not very different from the room in which I had last seen Novak, three days before his passing. The hospital room was occupied by my son Joseph, who had suffered a traumatic ski accident. Although I was expecting the news about Novak, indeed thinking of him nearly constantly in those last days, still it took my breath away, and its impossibility is what struck me most at that moment in the hospital room in Winchester, Va. Novak was that great-souled man described by Aristotle, and such greatness cannot simply cease to be. We sense that it must press forward, to be perfected and purified, until we can join him and resume the “conversation of friends” — in the art of which I have known no superior to Michael Novak." ...




In memoriam: Michael Novak Catholic philosopher saw a link between political, economic, moral liberty

From: OSV Newsweekly
Date: Feb. 22, 2017
Author: Max Torres



When I think of Michael Novak, two images spring to mind, both of his face. The first is his smile, an infectious countenance that flashed when his mind had led him to a conclusion that might be hard to accept, but, what else could he do? His mind was open and could therefore be led to a different conclusion, which is what happened to his outlook regarding political economy. Without shifting focus from his Catholic concerns for the poor, and for human flourishing, he came to believe that capitalism served those values better than socialism did. Consequently, it was the more moral system. I’m sure that was a great surprise to him, as it was to many of his fellow travelers. I imagine that he smiled at the irony.


The other was the pensive look on his face as he worked through a problem. His mind was so deep, its store of erudition and understanding so sweeping, that it was a pleasure to hear him speak aloud. His observations were often a revelation to me. He commented, for instance, that the history of America was one draped in the language of individuality, but steeped in the practice of community. In an ancestor’s diary, he’d read praises of rugged individualism and freedom. But, behind these encomiums, the diary was filled with anecdotes of barn raisings, community dinners, farming and tending livestock with others, attending church services and ceremonies, common defense and caring for sick neighbors. The language was individualistic, but the lived experience was communal. That was the American reality. The seriousness of his face underscored the point as if to challenge: “Any questions?” ...