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Michael Novak, influential Catholic author and teacher, dead at 83

February 17, 2017

Michael Novak, the American Catholic author, teacher, and political figure, on February 17 at the age of 83 after a battle with cancer.

In his most influential work, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, published in 1982, Novak offered a spirited moral defense of the capitalist system, according to the principles of Catholic social doctrine. His work drew the attention of St. John Paul II, with whom he became friendly, and had a demonstrable impact on the encyclical Centesimus Annus. At the same time his advocacy for human rights won the admiration of both US President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In 1981 and 1982 he served as the US ambassador to the UN’s commission on human rights.

In 1994 Novak was named the winner of the Templeton Prize for progress in religion.

The author of more than 50 books, Novak had taught at Harvard, Stanford, Notre Dame, and Ave Maria universities; he was teaching at the Catholic University of America when he fell ill.


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