A Few Thoughts – Dec 6th

A few thoughts,

Welcome to the Second Week of Advent and a consideration of the Fifth Chapter of Fratelli Tutti. It is an exciting chapter and as evocative as the title, “A better kind of politics”. Independent on what side of the isle a person stands, the past few months have left us all wondering precisely whether or not there is a better way. If you have not done so, download the encyclical, then when you have a moment here or there, you will have it handy. www.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html. In the meantime, today we take up chapter 4.

Chapter 5: A Better Kind of Politics

“The marketplace, by itself, cannot resolve every problem, however much we are asked to believe this dogma of neoliberal faith… The fragility of world-systems in the face of the pandemic has demonstrated that not everything can be resolved by market freedom… we must put human dignity back at the center…(168).”

A “better kind of politics,” Pope Francis says, is “truly at the service of the common good” and truly open to people, which makes it one of the most valuable forms of charity (154). Francis goes to lengths to explain the problems with the “populism” of today, which exploits the vulnerable for short-term gains. Likewise, he criticizes a form of liberal- ism which “serves the economic interests of the powerful.”

A better kind of politics also protects work, tackles poverty, and aims to find solutions to social problems which deny fundamental human rights, including hunger, human trafficking, and other social
exclusions.

Pope Francis repeats a critique that the international community wasted an opportunity for reform after the financial crisis of 2007-08. “Indeed, it appears that the actual strategies developed…fostered
greater individualism, less integration and increased freedom for the truly powerful, who always find a way to escape un- scathed (170).” Francis also notes the need for reform at the United Nations and international financial institutions, so “the family of nations can acquire real teeth (173).”

He closes by repeating lines from Laudato Si’: “politics must not be subject to the economy” and “true statecraft is manifest when, in difficult times, we uphold high principles and think of the long-term
common good (178).” Finally, Francis says politics can be a noble act when centered on the human dignity of all brothers and sisters.

Reflection Questions:
What do you think are the first steps to building a “better kind of politics?” How can you contribute?