Michael Novak (born 9 September 1933)
Is an American Catholic philosopher, journalist, novelist, and diplomat. The author of more than twenty-five books on the philosophy and theology of culture, Novak is most widely known for his book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (1982). In 1993 Novak was honored with an honorary doctorate degree at Universidad Francisco Marroquín due to his commitment to the idea of liberty. In 1994 he was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, which included a million-dollar purse awarded at Buckingham Palace. He writes books and articles focused on capitalism, religion, and the politics of democratization.
Novak served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1981 and 1982 and led the U.S. delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1986. Additionally, Novak served on the board of directors of the now-defunct Coalition for a Democratic Majority, a faction of the Democratic Party, which sought to influence Democratic Party policies in the same direction that the Committee on the Present Danger later did. Novak is currently George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute. As of 2004, he has claimed to be a lifelong Democrat, but he has supported many Republican candidates in recent years
Early life, education, and family
Novak was born in 1933 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to a Slovak-American family, the son of Irene Sakmar and Michael J. Novak. He was married to Karen Laub-Novak, a professional artist and illustrator, who died of cancer in August 2009. They have three children (Richard, Tanya, and Jana) and four grandchildren.
Novak earned a B.A. summa cum laude in philosophy and English from Stonehill College in 1956, a Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus (a degree in theology), from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1958 and an M.A. in history and philosophy of religion from Harvard University in 1966. Novak attended Harvard University to study philosophy and religion, intending to obtain a doctorate in philosophy of religion. Novak stated that he thought the philosophy department was too focused on analytic philosophy, neglecting religion. He left Harvard after receiving his M.A., and began work as a writer.
Second Vatican Council
Novak worked as a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter during the second session of the Second Vatican Council in Rome, where he also got the opportunity to fulfill a book contract for a fellow reporter who was not able to complete the project. The result was Novak's second book, The Open Church, a journalistic account of the events of the second session of the Council.
His writings at the time were criticized by the more Conservative factions in the Church, and apostolic delegate Egidio Vagnozzi advised US Churchmen to silence him.