Fratelli Tutti is a familiar mixture of dubious claims, strawmen, genuine insights

Pope Francis’s new encyclical reflects the broader pattern of the commentary which has long characterized his pontificate.

Detail from the cover of the English edition of Pope Francis' new encyclical, "Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship." (CNS photo/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)

One of the first things that will strike readers of Pope Francis’s new social encyclical Fratelli Tutti is its sheer length. At about 43,000 words in English (including footnotes), that’s more than the Book of Genesis (32,046) and three times the size of the Gospel of John (15,635).

Despite its length, there’s little in this text that we have not heard Francis say before in one form or another. But whether the subject is capital punishment or his theme of encounter, this encyclical condenses Francis’s particular emphases, specific worries, and general hopes for the Church and the world into one document. That includes Francis at his best, but also what I regard as some enduring blind-spots.

Like most social encyclicals, Fratelli Tutti addresses a hodgepodge of topics. These range from detailed analysis of contemporary populism to explorations of the meaning of kindness, reciprocity and gratuitousness. In discussing these and other subjects, Fratelli Tutti insists on the need for Christians and others to be open to learning from others. In fact, the word “open” is used no less than 76 times, and goes hand-in-hand with a stress on the need for dialogue (referenced 49 times).

It’s in that spirit that I’d like to offer responses to two features of the encyclical that, I suggest, require closer attention.

Saint Francis and the Sultan

The figure of Saint Francis of Assisi has loomed large throughout this pontificate, not least because Jorge Bergoglio imaginatively took his name when elected pope in 2013. Fratelli Tutti begins by invoking Saint Francis’s famous encounter with Sultan Malik-el-Kamil in Egypt in the midst of the Fifth Crusade. It states that the saint told his followers that “if they found themselves ‘among the Saracens and other nonbelievers,’ without renouncing their own identity they were not to ‘engage in arguments or disputes, but to be subject to every human creature for God’s sake’.” Pope Francis then adds: “We are impressed that some eight hundred years ago Saint Francis urged that all forms of hostility or conflict be avoided and that a humble and fraternal ‘subjection’ be shown to those who did not share his faith” (3).

Taken at face-value, this suggests that Saint Francis was rather meek and mild when he met with one of the most powerful Muslim rulers of the time. That, however, is not the case. The full story is best told in Augustine Thompson O.P.’s Francis of Assisi: A New Biography (2012). One of the book’s many strengths is that it demolishes various myths which have grown up about Francis of Assisi via careful and meticulous attention to and assessment of primary sources.

As Thompson relates, when the Sultan asked Francis and his companion the purpose of his visit, the saint “got immediately to the point. He was the ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ and had come for the salvation of the sultan’s soul. Francis expressed his willingness to explain and defend Christianity.”

What followed was an exchange of statements by Francis and the Sultan’s religious advisors (who told the Sultan to execute Francis for “preaching against Muhammad and Islam”) in which the two parties outlined the respective truth claims of Christianity and Islam. Francis then engaged in a “long conversation” with the Sultan in which he “continued to express his Christian faith in the Crucified Lord and his promise of salvation.” At no point did the saint, Thompson stresses, speak ill of the Prophet Muhammad. But Francis wasn’t there for an exchange of diplomatic pleasantries. He wanted to convert the Sultan to Christianity through word and action.

I raise these facts about Saint Francis’s encounter with the Sultan because it is important to know that, to the extent that it was a dialogue, the saint was concerned with addressing the question of religious truth. That’s not how Fratelli Tutti portrays the meeting. This is a problem because unless we know the full truth about a given event or person, it is easy to encourage wishful thinking or even misrepresentations of what someone was trying to say or do at a given moment. On that score, Fratelli Tutti’s representation of Saint Francis is wanting.

Economic strawmen

Also insufficient—and, alas, this has characterized Francis’s pontificate from its very beginning—is Fratelli Tutti’s treatment of economic questions. It seems that, no matter how many people (not all of whom can be characterized as fiscal conservatives) highlight the economic caricatures that roam throughout Francis’s documents, a pontificate which prides itself on its commitment to dialogue just isn’t interested in a serious conversation about economic issues outside a very limited circle.

The encyclical speaks, for instance, of “those who would have had us believe that freedom of the market was sufficient to keep everything secure” (168). Who, I must ask, are these people? And where do they claim this? If such views exist, I’d suggest, they are to be found among a telephone-box sized minority of radical libertarians who wield little to no influence on the formation of economic policy anywhere.

In the same paragraph, Francis states that “The marketplace, by itself, cannot resolve every problem, however much we are asked to believe this dogma of neoliberal faith.” Again. I respectfully ask: who are these “neoliberals” who believe that markets can solve every problem? If one is going to make such a claim, one should present evidence to back it up. It’s also the case that some of the world’s most prominent market liberals have been arguing for decades that markets requires all sorts of decidedly non-commercial moral habits and institutional and cultural prerequisites to be in place if individuals and businesses are to create economic value and supply people with the goods and services which they need. That fact, however, seems to have missed by the encyclical’s drafters.

Or, consider this line: “Financial speculation fundamentally aimed at quick profit continues to wreak havoc” (168). Whoever penned that sentence plainly doesn’t understand the role played by speculation in helping to stabilize prices over time and increase the predictability of likely costs into the future. Yes, speculation can be abused. But when done right, financial speculation helps to create efficiencies in the investment and deployment of capital by individuals and businesses that, while certainly designed to produce profit, can also promote a better stewardship of available capital resources which might otherwise be wasted.

In another sentence, Francis states (quoting himself) that “without internal forms of solidarity and mutual trust, the market cannot completely fulfil its proper economic function. And today this trust has ceased to exist” (168).

That’s an unqualified statement, and it leads me to ask: has this trust really “ceased to exist”? Even in our highly-fragmented COVID world, millions of people across the world continue entering into market exchanges every day with people they have never met, and they do so on the basis of promises. All this implies trust. If such trust didn’t exist, the global economy and national and local economies would have ceased to function long ago.

It’s certainly true that there are societies—most notably in Latin America, much of Asia and many developing countries—where high levels of trust are harder to find outside extended family settings. This hampers the workings of economic exchange. But these circumstances have little to do with markets per se and much more to do with long-established and difficult to change cultural patterns which have existed for centuries.

There is plenty of room for constructive debate among Catholics about the role of the government, law, central banks, and other state institutions in the economy. Indeed, it’s never been my impression that Francis is hell-bent on a massive increase in state intervention to address any number of economic challenges. But the endless invocation of economic strawmen in papal documents and by prominent figures associated with Francis’s pontificate isn’t likely to create any confidence that most of those who have guided this pontificate’s reflections on economic matters have a genuine interest in any real dialogue with anyone who doesn’t fit on the spectrum between left-wing populists and your run-of-the-mill neo-Keynesian.

Contrary to what some believe, the left does not have a monopoly on concern for the poor or on good ideas on how to help them. Whether it happens in this pontificate or the next, there is a desperate need for the papacy and other Catholic Church leaders to widen dramatically the circles of opinion whom they consult on economic topics like wealth and poverty. If they don’t, I’m afraid we will continue to see them continuing to make all-encompassing blanket statements about such matters that reflect a substantive lack of an openness to dialogue which Fratelli Tutti insists should be prioritized everywhere.

A mixed bag

The two concerns which I raise here should not be read as indicating that I regard Fratelli Tutti as a fallacious document all-round. There are many parts in which I think the encyclical is spot-on.

Among other things, these include its emphasis on the destructive role played by moral relativism in contemporary societies (206), the perennial importance of forgiveness in a world in which conflict is part of the human condition (236-249), and its concluding reference to one of my favorite saints, Blessed Charles de Foucauld—a dissolute aristocrat, army officer and one-time agnostic who became a priest and hermit in French North Africa—as exemplifying Christian fraternity.

That said, the encyclical reflects the broader pattern of the commentary which has long characterized Francis’s pontificate. Genuine insights which spring directly from the Gospels and often profound meditations on the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures go hand-in-hand with dubious historical claims, generalized assertions about highly prudential matters which are unsupported by evidence, and a fair amount of what I can only describe as utopianism.

The more, however, that I read through Fratelli Tutti, the more I had the sense that this encyclical wasn’t just an elongated summation and elaboration of the pope’s thought. It also impressed me as a type of valediction for his papacy—one that may well have said all that it has to say. This doesn’t mean that Francis’s pontificate is drawing to a close. But Fratelli Tutti does bear all the marks of a capstone document. Whether it leaves a lasting impression on the Catholic Church is anyone’s guess.

Editor’s note: This is the first of several CWR essays on Fratelli Tutti and related topics. The other essays are:
“An encyclical filled with tensions and omissions” (Oct. 8, 2020) by Paulo Futili
Fratelli Tutti and its critics” (Oct. 9, 2020) by Larry Chapp
“Culture, dialogue, religion, and truth in Fratelli Tutti (Oct. 9, 2020) by Eduardo Echeverria
“Brothers without Borders: Pope Francis’s Quasi-Humanitarian Manifesto” (Oct. 10, 2020) by Daniel J. Mahoney

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About Dr. Samuel Gregg 39 Articles
Samuel Gregg is Research Director at the Acton Institute. The author of many books—including the prize-winning The Commercial Society (Rowman & Littlefield), Wilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy (Edward Elgar), Becoming Europe (Encounter), the prize-winning Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization (Regnery), and over 400 articles and opinion-pieces—he writes regularly on political economy, finance, American conservatism, Western civilization, and natural law theory. He can be followed on Twitter @drsamuelgregg


  1. May God raise up laity, shepherds (priests and bishops), and a Pope who once again seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, truly follow Christ, and boldly call the nations to repent and actively believe in the only way to the Father, Jesus Christ. We desperately need a Church that is unashamed, unafraid, and unwilling to compromise the Gospel of Christ Crucified, the power of God unto salvation. Pray!

    Holy Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Pray for Us!

  2. With Francis’ record, experience and comments about the U.N., who is better suited to head such a body than himself? As one of his popular people, I vote to give him a well deserved send off.

  3. The Pope has no time to answer the Dubia or make available the McCarrick report, but he has more than enough time to write another Bog Roll Encyclical. He should instead focus on cleaning up the mess in the Vatican (or step down to make way for another Pope who will).

  4. I don’t know why you are sugar coating it. This is a crassly political document where the Pope tries to dogmatize his idiosyncratic Argentinian political philosophy and refound the Catholic Church as Rotary International. I’m starting to think not only is the Pope a heretic he may well be an ignoramus too given the number of clearly ridiculous ‘absolute’ prudential statements he makes.

    Examples of this are his foolish judgement that the penal system has advanced enough everywhere and in all places globally that the death penalty can never be permitted and this is a position that there is no going back on? Where did he get his crystal ball from to see that in the future for all times society globally will never need the death penalty again? Has he ‘accompanied’ the uncontacted tribes in the Amazon he is so fond of to validate that they have sufficiently secure earthen hut prisons to keep their society safe while respecting the pop culture sentimental notion of human dignity he believes their prisoners possess?

    • He hasn’t even figured out that burying children alive by these idealized primitive tribes is a real intrinsic evil, and a real capital punishment, on completely innocent subjects no less.

  5. If 60% of the citations in this document are Francis citing himself and he does not cite Pope Leo XIII or Pius XI, John XXIII a single time or anything written before Vatican II how can this be Catholic Magisterium in the realm of Social Teaching? If an encyclical ignores the entire corpus of the foundation of the topics it weights in on is it actually Catholic? Do we have a Church that now revolves around self-referential naked papal authority and legal positivism where every Pope has a blank canvas to paint whatever he wants on? If this is so and previous magisterial tradition has no binding force anymore this is an Anti-Church not the Catholic Church.

  6. How about giving an example by following true Catholic social teaching in the Vatican’s relations with China: why is there so much silence from Rome regarding religious persecution and human rights violation in China? Why is Rome ignoring Cardinal Zen’s pleas? Is not this what has been always called hypocrisy?

  7. What a disappointment – the encyclical is only hours old and you’re out of the gate already with a blast of gaseous negativity. What can we hope for?

    • One world government (UN). Socialism. One watered down religion where we all pray to the same God no matter who it is. This is the pope?

  8. The article could have been more charitable, I believe for a Papal Letter that serves to highlight the crisis of the Church and Apostolate: The fact that The Church does not seem to any longer operate in The Gifts of The Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Knowledge, Discernment…), but it is trojan horse of worldly interests. A great deal of discernment is required as matters seem to be driven by avarice, coveting and disdain of the poor that the left – “progressives”, seem to push for. We therefore know little about the problems we aim to solve such the encyclical. There is a lot that can charitably been said, but the following seem obvious reasons why the discourse is unmoored.

    1. Loss of interior life, that has been saturated by the noise even in the letter.

    2. The True Brotherhood in Christ can not be sustained or nourished by worldly desires and ambitions.

    3. True Apostolate in the Laity and Priesthood needs to present the Spirit of the Saints, not their words or cursory cliches. We have to confront the dark night of the soul of the church as most have gone astray and are too much in the world to give useful cues.

    My purview is limited, but as each read of an encyclical and the CWR lends support to the hypothesis that the Church is of Saints, can only be built by Saints and few or disdained as they might be, no one else can do it. The Love of Christ,The Gifts of The Holy Spirit and our openness to them for Christ,not of the world is the beginning.

  9. Length. Who is going to read this in its entirety? Who is the audience? Other than trash novels on The NY Times bestseller list, few people read lengthy writings of any sort.
    Question. It would appear that the Pope’s latest is largely a compendium if things he has said before. What is the point of repeating themes that have already been addressed?

    • In my experience, once a titular leader loses credibility, the loss is permanent. I believe Pope Francis has lost credibility and this encyclical will be largely ignored by faithful Catholics irrespective of its excessive length ( but Joe Biden and his party may well cite it to support their political diatribe just as Nancy Pelosi cited the Pope’s speech to Congress as a reason that Republicans should stop trying to defund Planned Parenthood).

    • We do tend to blabber on and on when we really don’t have anything substantial to say. That has been the hallmark of this Pope’s encyclicals.

    • Hi Evans, you raise two pertinent points here which seem to have no support. The first is the length. If something is lengthy and we do not read it yet talk about it, then we wonder what we are talking about – our talking becomes fruit of intellectual defeat for the intellect has not faced the material. Secondly, I see no fault in someone repeating themselves. When I hear someone speaking and repeating themselves so much, I simply walk away from them. Continuing to talk with them, I also risk repeating myself – and that is what I am reading. The fact that people pass through the traffic lights when they are red, does not mean that we remove the lights. I am in the process of reading the document and only after having read it all will i be qualified so say any civil word about it. That is why I respect the author of the article to which we are commenting. he has read the text.

  10. “The more, however, that I read through Fratelli Tutti, the more I had the sense that this encyclical wasn’t just an elongated summation and elaboration of the pope’s thought. It also impressed me as a type of valediction for his papacy” (Dr Gregg). I isolate key passages that support Dr Grgg’s evaluation, and perhaps further, that it’s purpose is to ideologize: “Without Borders” Ad 3, Headlines the document after announcing Saint Francis’ We are all brothers. A vision of brotherhood absent of national, ethnic, and suggested, the absence of religious identity. “Dark Clouds Over a Closed World” Ch 1 Ad 9, Admonishes that we lack a plan for everyone, which by implication disqualifies the Gospels. “A throwaway world” Ad 18, Abortion and euthanasia are the ecological equivalent to improper environmental disposal in a throw away culture. “Insufficiently universal human rights” Ad 22 tends toward extreme egalitarianism suggesting that all rights are universal. Ad 24 Human Trafficking is well stated. Although it doesn’t address the paramount problem of political trafficking by pro abortion policy. “Conflict and Fear” Ad 25 Extends prohibition of war to include the right to self defense, which is an abrogation of Church doctrine based on Natural Law. “An absence of human dignity on the Borders” Ad 37, Implies US border policy. Ch 2 “A Stranger on the Road”, In essence promotes an ideological pretext within the valid context of charity. For example, 62. “Yet this call to love could be misunderstood. Saint Paul, recognizing the temptation of the earliest Christian communities to form closed and isolated groups, urged his disciples to abound in love for one another and for all” is the putative rationale for the Vatican in suppressing contemplative orders. In summary I agree with Dr Samuel Gregg. The encyclical Fratelli Tutti is deceptive New Paradigm propaganda. An attempt at valediction of the inadmissible.

    • To clarify what is meant by inadmissible New Paradigm propaganda, it is not to say the encyclical explicitly teaches heresy. Rather it’s a continuation of the secularization of the Gospels, a proffering of basically good ethical principles without the exigency professed by Christ. In effect without Christ. Fratelli Tutti could just as well have been written by former Council on Secular Humanism president Dr Paul Kurtz. The Pontiff may sincerely believe that a complementary sharing of universal values is sufficient. And there are reasons to argue that in context of clerical sexual scandal, and other issues such as financial corruption that contribute to the loss of credibility in Christianity. Nonetheless that betrays not only the force of the Christian message as required of us by Christ, but denies Christ himself.

      • I have not read the document, but might we say in general that “new paradigm” Catholicism is a fatal step away from coherence? Specifically, on the one hand Catholic moral dogma (re abortion, euthanasia, sexual morality, etc.) continues to be formally affirmed; while on the other hand this affirmation is compartmentalized—-incoherently segregated from contradictory behavior which is informally enabled? The new paradigm anoints schizophrenia. In pre-modern Europe the Church converted the barbarians; under post-modern and post-Christian Globalism the Church is not yet reduced to a do-gooder NGO, but becomes a chameleon.

        • You state the matter quite well, “This affirmation is compartmentalized—-incoherently segregated from contradictory behavior which is informally enabled?”. Yes. Informal enabling is the most reasonable take. That this occurs consistently would rule out incompetence.

          • Unless I missed something, I never heard Francis forcefully condemn the sex revolution that makes the abortion carnage inevitable. At any rate, the above is a fine piece of many that needs to be composed. But I would love to read a lengthy piece of commentary on this encyclical by you father. If you publish one elsewhere, maybe CWR will allow you to return to list the link?

    • “the putative rationale for the Vatican in suppressing contemplative orders”

      Wait, what? Did I miss some news? The Vatican is suppressing contemplative orders?

      Did somebody miss the story of Mary and Martha?

      • You must be intuitive because today’s Gospel Ordinary Time is Lk 10:38 on Martha and Mary. I meant to reference contemplative communities of nuns and the Instruction Cor orans, April 2018, the juridical list of observances they are required to follow. For example, “A monastery of nuns, as every religious house, is erected while keeping in mind its usefulness for the Church and for the Institute” (Cor orans 19). Usefulness for the Church sets the more activist tone in the list of observances on integration with other communities, and other Church activities rather than the ‘usefulness’ of elicitation of graces for the Church. Several communities have already been ordered to disband for non compliance in Italy, France, Germany. So far I’m not aware of religious orders, although most orders previously considered contemplative have adapted to progressive ideology even before 2013. Many of these small communities of nuns were formed to retain the contemplative life as traditionally practiced.

  11. I was thinking just the other day about how ironic it was that Bergolio took the name Francis – after Francis of Assisi, since he has declared that God WANTS people to be Muslim and of a panoply of disparate religions. The Holy Father might well be right and that might really be God’s will, but Francis of Assisi did not believe that, as exceptionally well documented by Dr. Gregg.

    • It’s already being used by Catholics and others to justify voting for political candidates supporting abortion including infanticide.
      Also, would someone speak to Pope Francis’ apparent support of the UN as a moral leader. As a Catholic I thought that was a role Christ gave to His Church.

      • Oddly after reading the entire thing over the course of a few days I found the document to be an absolute condemnation of almost every single thing that democrats in this country represent, abide by and support. The republican party can find a lot of criticism as well because of it’s heavy involvement in many wars and a few other things that they share in common with democrats. Liberals who point to it as cover for their murderous ways don’t read it and don’t care what it says. Unfortunately the same is happening among conservatives.

  12. If you have studied any of the Marxists/Leninists/Communists, you will find that they all wrote very long, rambling documents full of mishmash and wordily pompous fatuity.
    I have not read the document yet, but from the articles on it, it appears that is what Francis has written here. Most of his points are self obvious. We should all be nice to one another. Of course. But nowhere do I get the impression that he bases this on Jesus Christ, or on Christianity, or on Catholic teaching. He seems to get more from left wing ideology of nothingness. As I said before, if you were told Oprah wrote this document, you probably would agree it sounded like her.
    Let’s face it. This pope seems only minimally connected to Christianity. Like many leftists, he seems to view religion only as a jumping off point for implementing his political beliefs, which are indistinguishable from the beliefs an atheist might have.

    • Excellent point, samton, and very concisely stated:

      “Like many leftists, he seems to view religion only as a jumping off point for implementing his political beliefs, which are indistinguishable from the beliefs an atheist might have.”

      This is as succinct a summary of this papacy as I’ve seen. And — congratulations! — you’ve managed it in far fewer than 43,000 words.

      The fact that Nancy Pelosi is comfortable quoting this pope is as revealing as it is disturbing.

  13. I agree with Francis on neoliberalism, and fail to see any conflict between the need for charitable dialogue and devotion to truth. But I was disappointed with his remarks on COVID. COVID teaches us in unmistakeable terms the downside of globalization: viruses and panics cross national boundaries. And the ideology of lockdowns and social distancing, which will be with us when COVID has joined the Hong Kong flu in the dustbin of history, undermines everything he says about social friendship.

  14. I saw someone’s comment elsewhere referring to this as “Tutti Frutti” & now I can’t stop thinking of it as that.

    • Yes, that was me. I get tired of all the negativity against the Pope and his extremely difficult job. But Tutti Fratelli just sort of reminded me of tutti frutti. Then, I thought of the literal translations.. hmmm the entire brotherhood and hmmmm fruit, like of the labors of those working toward a global peace. Hence Tutti Frutti Fratelli.

      By the way, do you think some of these have read somewhere, ‘do not call fool, lest you become one?” 🙂 guess not.

  15. St. Paul clearly spelled it out in his letter to the Galatians, Chapter 1.

    No Other Gospel

    6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

    10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

  16. Francis is preaching a kind of self-destruction of the Church when he brings up the alleged importance of the “redistribution” of wealth. How this can fail to lead to taking apart the Vatican piece by piece is beyond me. Surely this bears out Padre Pio’s admonitions about Satanism reaching the high places of the Church. It doesn’t mean that, as a Catholic, I will become disobedient to Francis. But we must all pray.

    • If it were merely preaching the self destruction of the church. But I fear it is more than that. It is actively working towards it. Think China accord.

  17. I found Jesus mentioned 33 times, God mentioned 70 times, Mary mentioned 2 times,
    Francis mentioned 23 times, and ‘I’ mentioned 122 times…the latter referencing himself. He is competing with former president Obama for the use of ‘I’s’ when trying to articulate ideas and concepts that really have nothing to do with the speaker (in this case the writer). Another bloated nothing burger.
    Question: why does Francis reference/footnote himself more than anyone else? I thought we had more popes that just him who wrote and spoke on such things. Sus

  18. Respectfully, I think that your reading of FT 168 was amiss. In my opinion, FT 168 is about placing persons (more specifically the poor and destitute) at he center of economics and the market.
    You have asked, quite rightfully, if those who hold “neoliberalism” are even influential, if they even exist. But what P.P. Francis is “attacking” is not whether they are influential or not, but rather the idea of “neoliberalism” itself. In my reading, the Pope rejects this “neoliberalism” The number of persons espousing such idea, in my opinion, is irrelevant.

    You said, “It’s also the case that some of the world’s most prominent market liberals have been arguing for decades that markets requires all sorts of decidedly non-commercial moral habits and institutional and cultural prerequisites to be in place if individuals and businesses are to create economic value and supply people with the goods and services which they need.”. I don’t think this is what the pope refers to as those who espouse “neoliberalism”

    On your comment about the financial speculation, His Holiness narrows down what kind of speculation “continues to wreak havoc”, that is “financial speculation fundamentally aimed at quick profit”. I don’t think your following statements that some speculation may be helpful is the same what the Pope said about what “continues to wreak havoc”.

    “In another sentence, Francis states (quoting himself) that “without internal forms of solidarity and mutual trust, the market cannot completely fulfil its proper economic function. And today this trust has ceased to exist” (168).” It is actually a quote from Pope Benedict XVI “Caritas in Veritate” No. 35.

  19. This document represents for Francis a Grand Opera summarizing his willful distortions and lifelong misunderstandings of the Catholic faith in pursuit of his longstanding goals of his world view and agenda, his syncretistic sympathies and his longstanding moral accommodationism, typical of post VII moral theology, that treats guilt as a greater evil than the evil embodied in malice itself. Never has Francis expressed any coherent understanding of divinely endowed natural law, which he seems to repeatedly dismiss as an “ideology,” and his latest thought is no exception.
    With language that implies positivist thought over scholastic, Francis insists that the world can come to universal ethical values without “ethical rigidity” or “the imposition of any one moral system, since fundamental and universally valid moral principles can be embodied in different practical rules.”
    Sure, human history has taught us that all humanity has ever wanted to do is just wait for the right elitist cadre to command all of humanity to stay in line with what they have figured out is best for everyone else. No more dissent. No more war. We all want this. Yeah, right. History shows that everyone will eventually agree. The U.N. and the Chinese Government seems to have it figured out, not the dirty job creators of the West who sustain prosperity.
    He essentially invites us to ignore the historical reality that is rife with mountains of corpses and oceans of blood over disputes concerning a universal acceptance, derived from politics and endless “dialogue” about what is right and what is wrong. If his faith, including knowledge of original sin and the imperfectability of the human condition, were sufficiently orthodox, he should be able to figure out that a denial of humanity’s moral capriciousness, unchecked and unguided by an available divinely endowed grace and knowledge, necessarily implies that God and only God would be to blame for all the evil and sin in the world and Satan and humanity would be blameless. Were he to ever come to his senses then he could make more room to talk about a blameworthy humanity’s personal sin and redemption, which is that for which Our Lord created the Church to bear witness.

  20. Interesingly, the author, Dr. Samuel Gregg, begins by the “sheer length” of the encyclical, yet there are so many “sarcastic” comments based on his review! Are we justified? Are we truthtful? Is it the right way to add our comments? Is it “spiritual” which seems to be the motive behind some of the comments?

  21. I have no respect for him as a man or priest. He does not have the qualities of the Shepard we need and deserve, his lack of moral rage and action in regards to the abuse scandals, speak to his moral deficits and contempt for the laity. So many scandals and moral failings fill me with fury and disgust.

  22. I would add that St Francis also approached the Sultan, not with a meek “what are your orders for me your highness so that I may obey them?” But as a tough no nonsense negotiator. He won a promise of somewhat decreased oppression of the Christians (and Jews) subject to the Sultan, but the right of St Francis’ order to control the Christian Holy Places in the Holy Land, which they retain to this day.

  23. Can the Holy Spirit make mistakes? I seems that the Spirit found a young lady beauty contest contestant who on stage mouthed such inanities as: “All I want is world peace.” — “Why can’t everyone be friends?” — “Why can’t we all get along.” . But then, the Holy Spirit made the mistake in instilling this lady’s mind and sensibilities into Pope Francis. And, as with the young lady, Fratelli Tutti will have a cute moment on a stage and then be forgotten.

  24. In reference to “those who would have had us believe that freedom of the market was sufficient to keep everything secure”, you ask above “Who, I must ask, are these people? And where do they claim this? If such views exist, I’d suggest, they are to be found among a telephone-box sized minority of radical libertarians who wield little to no influence on the formation of economic policy anywhere.”

    I would refer you to Adam Smith. He wrote a book called the Wealth of Nations. It’s fairly well-known.

    This is also the baseline tenet of supply side (aka trickle down) economics and the default setting for the US’s approach to governance, which gained strongest momentum during the Reagan era and continued through GOP and Dem administrations until Obama actually tried to do things like enable the basic right to health in modern society. It has renewed momentum in the Trump administration.

    Here’s a primer, if you were missing from class on the same day as Ferris Buhler when the Laffer curve was being explained:

    • “enable the basic right to health in modern society”

      Nobody is trying to take away the right to health. What you seem to be wanting to talk about is the “right to health care.” And nobody of whom I’ve ever heard disputes that people have a right health care, but there is considerable dispute over how best to make sure everyone has access to it, which is a completely different thing.

    • Clearly you never read Wealth of Nations which, like your references to Reagan and Trump, and their administrations, never did claim that free economies would solve all human problems independent of initiatives of charitable human virtue, which happens to be cynically undermined by socialist or even moderately liberal governments.

    • You refer us, rather snidely, to Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations. But Adam Smith never said that the free market was the answer to all human problems. He said, correctly, that it was the fairest and most efficient mechanism for the production and distribution of economic goods.

      He also wrote a book called the Theory of Moral Sentiments in which he argues the importance of empathy as the glue that holds society together. So I don’t think you would find Adam Smith in that telephone box to which Dr. Gregg refers.

      You also refer to the free market as “the baseline tenet of supply side (aka trickle down) economics and the default setting for the US’s approach to governance.” Government spending accounts for about 20% of US GDP, and detailed government regulations either impact or control almost all of the rest. So I hardly think that the free market is the default setting of the US economy. It was at one time, long, long ago. But now, and for a long time, the US economy could probably be described morel accurately as either fascist or socialist (depending on the sector) that as a free market.

      Leftists have a tendency to say, “We must do something about this rapacious free market.” They then regulate it beyond all recognition, and then say again, “We must do something about this rapacious free market.” The market they criticize is no longer free. The results they criticize flow from the system they espouse.

  25. I am certain that in the (about) last 20 years the Vatican issued a directive aimed at fewer documents being issued and shorter documents. Does anybody know what I am referring to?

  26. Pope Francis is a classic social and economic liberal. He would benefit from reading more of Saint John Paul. He should also have a conversation with Dr. Greg about policy options to provide for the poor. Francis in his simplistic approach does not understand that Stalin & Mao expressed the same feeling for the poor and killed 150 million souls who didn’t like their approach.

  27. Father Z noted that this encyclical will have a profound effect- on the tens of people who bother reading it and sifting through all the twaddle. I pray it will simply be dismissed and forgotten on the scrapheap of history, along with other embarrassments like Pope John XXII’s denial of the beatific vision or Pope Benedict IX’s pornography. Above all, it reminds us of the very high threshold Papal Infallibility must meet-and how often this threshold is not crossed.

  28. Fratelli Tutti is pointing primarily to St. Francis´ counsel to avoid engaging in arguments or disputes – because they are often ¨sterile¨ or end up in stalemate, with neither side convincing the other or both sides engaging in polemics / talking past each other.

    A few cases in point:
    1) Catholicism or Islam?:
    2) The Classical Debates – Jay Smith vs. Dr. Shabir Ally:
    3) Christian Muslim Debate got a little hot – Missionary said ‘We hit the wall’ and left:
    4) Is the Bible corrupted? –
    5) Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? Christian vs Muslim (William Lane Craig vs Shabir Ally) –
    6) Islam vs Christianity Debate: The Choice | Asrar Rashid vs Christians –
    7) Muslim-Christian Debate: Women & Marriage in the Quran and Bible –
    8) Open Air Preaching – Islam vs Christianity:
    9) Debate on Islam:
    10) Islam Peace debate:
    11) Videos showing ´dialogues´ with Christians in
    12) A Christian / Muslim debate – Is Allah the God of the Bible? –

    Some dialogues can be a step forward but at the end of the day, even in them, progress, if any, is limited. Examples:
    1) Channel of Praedicator Veritatis –
    2) An Islam Christian Debate: Part 1:
    3) An Islam Christian Debate: Part 2:
    4) A Dialogue between a Muslim & a Christian –
    5) Christian Muslim Dialogue Pt.1 – Dr. James White & Dr. Yasir Qadhi –
    6) Christian Muslim Dialogue Pt. 2 –
    7) A Catholic Priest Among Muslims: 40 Years in Dialogue with the Followers of Islam –

    The number of Christians / Catholics who ´know their stuff´ and are able to effectively defend it (1 Pt. 3: 15) is arguably small. And then, there is the question of – how many are actually ready and willing to go the whole hog, patiently listen to where another is actually coming from, and evangelize?

    Perhaps with a nod to what he said in Evangelii Gaudium, viz., ´Realities are more important than ideas´, the Pope is pointing to an area where more people (rather than just those with specialized knowledge/training in theology/apologetics) can make a contribution, – viz., by taking to heart what Pope St. Paul VI said in #41 and 42 of Evangelii Nuntiandi ( ) i.e.:
    ´…for the Church, the first means of evangelization is *the witness of an authentically Christian life*, given over to God in a communion that nothing should destroy and at the same time given to one’s neighbor with limitless zeal…*Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”*…St. Peter expressed this well when he held up the example of a reverent and chaste life that wins over even without a word those who refuse to obey the word. It is therefore *primarily by her conduct and by her life* that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus- the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, *the witness of sanctity*.´

    (Of course, there is also ´the importance and necessity of preaching…´)

    Further, we should read everything not only in context but also consider the wider picture before arriving at a conclusion that there is an encouragement to ´wishful thinking.´
    For instance, –
    Pope on Christian-Muslim dialogue: Saying ‘yes’ to everything is a way of deceiving –

    And there can be other little ways that could, in time and through prayer, bear fruit…
    1) Pope’s Philippines Visit Highlights Catholic Dialogue With Muslims –
    2) Pope Francis meets president of Muslim charity organization –
    3) Muslim leader meets Pope Francis to discuss peace, human fraternity –
    4) Pope visits Turkey, urges solidarity against Islamic terror >

  29. St. John Paul II coins THE TERM “non-exclusive solidarity” (Memory and Identity, 2005). Fratelli tutti expands this term into 45,000 words….One muddle in the middle is the tacked-on notion: “Here too we see the importance of the principle of subsidiarity, which is inseparable from the principle of solidarity” (in n. 187).

    Meaning what (?) after first formulating this: “While one person can help another by providing something to eat, the politician CREATES a job for that other person, and thus practices a lofty form of CHARITY that ennobles his or her political activity” (in n. 186).

    The “politician creates a job”? The function of government is “charity”? In a later subchapter, entitled The Art and Architecture of Peace, the ghostwriter could here have distinguished that subsidiarity refers to NOT ONLY lower/local levels of government, but ALSO institutions totally outside of the state altogether, like the family and private and civic community organizations. Maybe even churches.

    In fairness, in its cultural critique Fratelli tutti says something about everything and hits a lot of deserving nerves, but the structure dissolves. Is the world now only a battleground between individualism and populism? Do we detect in Fratelli tutti a fraternal analogy between the overall FLUIDITY of Fratelli Tutti and the MYSTICAL “family” of Islam [!]—the multinational and multistate umma within the universal mosque-state? The history of more granular Western nation-states bears some grievous flaws (paralleled by global Islam’s exclusionary dar al Islam v. dar al harb), but the Western culture of ARTICULATING spaces for both solidarity and subsidiarity, however imperfectly, merits more of a place at the table. Yes?

    In his book, Prayer as a Political Problem (1967), Cardinal Danielou cited Andre Gide to propose that human PARTICULARITY actually celebrates what is universal: “There is nobody more English than Shakespeare and no one more universal; none more Italian than Dante and no one more universal; none more French than Racine and no one more universal.” In its own way Fratelli tutti also says such things and urgently to a world that is both globalizing and disintegrating, and should be read receptively. . .

    But what if there are MORE factors, constraints, possibilities and choices than only walls or bridges? St. John Paul II’s “non-exclusive solidarities [plural]” for example? After all, the Good Samaritan (remarked upon at length) still spoke Hebrew rather than Esperanto, and took the victim to an inn rather than a government unemployment office.

  30. Almost everything that Pope Francis wrote can be found in the encyclicals of his predecessors. He did not write anything that is not confirmed by his predecessors. Especially when it comes to capitalism and the market. But for many in the USA, condemnation of capitalism stinks. The encyclical is a valuable set of many current things to which the Church must respond.

  31. The above image of the English edition speaks much as to the hearts that the Holy Father seems to want to heal …
    grateful for the better title of the review article here , that thus imparts a blessing too , not negativity –
    ‘vision for a better world ‘ and the desire for same , in Oneness with The Father , a powerful blessing for all , esp. the most in need ..

    blessings come from deep within the heart and do not have to site / quote others when one can trust that his own heart is in Oneness , in the Divine Will , with others who too are …esp. as granted by the Queen of Divine Will –

    The Holy Father likely would have anticipated the subtle ? mockery about the fruit connections and all ..trusting that , even so , the bitterness / distaste towards the Divine Will would be thus washed away ..

    In light of the Oneness in the humanity , the intention to plan and prepare the killing of even criminals , its pathological echoes through and through , he is trying to drown that out , in a world that , if not for the cry from The Cross that negates the effects of the silent screams of the millions … would have exploded into bits long ago ..

    And the irony of that exhortation , not being seen as the best prolife message !

    The teaching role of the Holy Father , to help the biblical truths to be made into bite sizes , for a world that does not have much of the mindset for same , esp. considering that this is the 1600 th year anniv . of St.Jerome ; the heart of the
    Holy Father that is ever looking out for the little , little as in being sinners or even worldly , no wonder he desired to share The Truth , may be in a large canvas style , that can be seen from far away lands as well help alleviate their fears , that would tend to see flying dragons , where there are only doves ..

    May the Holy Father be blessed with many more years of health and joy , seeing his desire and blessing , to see the coming of The Kingdom , its peace and holiness through hearts and nations ..
    Mary , Queen of The Divine Will , may love and gratitude for The Spirit touch and overflow in all hearts , for this labor of your beloved son , in the footsteps of others who too have labored for The Reign !

    • From :

      A “curate’s egg” is something described as partly bad and partly good. In its original usage, it referred to something that is obviously and entirely bad, but is described out of politeness as nonetheless having good features that redeem it.[1][2] This meaning has been largely supplanted by its less ironic modern usage, which refers to something that is in fact an indeterminate mix of good and bad,[3][4] possibly with a preponderance of bad qualities.[5]

  32. I find it not unsurprising that the majority of the critique in this article is directed towards Francis’ views on the market/economy, and the painful lengths to defend global finance. It kind of lays bare what the actual slant of the author (and site?) is.

  33. The “I” of Pope Francis comes from his heart not his head. His “I” is pastoral and exhorting. ‘Fratelli Tutti’ reckons “The joy of the gospel” fills the hearts and lives of all…those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness.
    In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.
    Francis continues in the same spirit! #168″It is imperative to have a proactive economic policy directed at “promoting an economy that favors productive diversity and business creativity”[140] and makes it possible for jobs to be created and not cut. Financial speculation fundamentally aimed at quick profit continues to wreak havoc” and in Evangelii Gaudium “Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape” To mention but a few, he is calling us to renew the face of the earth.
    He is calling us to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization…while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.

  34. The Wall Street Journal ran an article that mentioned the encyclical giving short shrift to property rights. Without property rights the possibility of raising the poor out of poverty becomes unattainable. This pope comes across as leaning heavily toward Gramsci and his brand of Marxism in this encyclical and in his speeches and shorter written works.

  35. To the question “I respectfully ask: who are these “neoliberals” who believe that markets can solve every problem?” I offer the following quotation from President Ronald Reagan 9/22/86: “The United States believes the greatest contribution we can make to world prosperity is the continued advocacy of the magic of the marketplace — the truth, the simple and proven truth, that economic development is an outgrowth of economic freedom just as economic freedom is the inseparable twin of political freedom and democratic government.”

  36. I will not read his encyclical. A vision of global brotherhood: and who needs God? A Fraternity with Pachamama and nature worshipers, with Islam? Islam denies Jesus is the Son of God, the resurrection and even that he was crucified. O holy Martyrs what were you thinking? You just needed a fraternity! “Who is a liar, but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ This is the antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son.” (J1 Jn 22) I do not believe a pope has the authority to proclaim fraternity of the Mystical body of Christ with unbelievers and deniers of Jesus Crucified.

  37. Pope’s new encyclical ignores previous social teaching
    by Phil Lawler October 8, 2020

    The article begins:

    How much longer can sensible Catholics maintain that Pope Francis is merely trying to develop— rather than to change— the teachings of the Catholic Church?

    With the release of Fratelli Tutti this week we have seen a pattern of media coverage that is now familiar. First there are headlines suggesting that the Pope has written something new and radical. Then the more sober analysis, arguing that this new papal statement is in line with Catholic traditions. The analysts who issue such reassurances are always arguing uphill— not only because the original media headlines leave a lasting impression, but because the papal text itself contains so much evidence of the Pope’s wish to promote change.

    Yes, there is solid, traditional Catholic teaching to be found in this encyclical. But there are also troubling passages in which Pope Francis appears clearly to be repudiating the statements and writings of his predecessors. Moreover, the most significant statements are floating on such an enormous sea of verbiage— amid 43,000 words of puzzling, speculative, and irrelevant commentary— that even the most determined reader must wonder what message the Pope really does want to convey.

  38. Thanks to Mr. Flynn for pointing me to Phil Lawler’s Oct. 8 article on the encyclical. Further discouragement from taking Pope Francis’ musings seriously.

  39. A world without evil: God could have decreed it, but He didn’t. He did expel Lucifer. Christ taught us to “hate ther sin, but love the sinner. In todays world, sin and sinner are one. If you hate abortion, you implicitly hate women who have them.
    If racism is systemic in our society, then pedophilia is systemic in the Church.
    No, there are bad (evil) people everywhere, in all institutions; bad capitalists, bad politicians, even bad priests.
    Christ was not a pacifist totally. At some point he was fed up with evil-doers and He cleared the Temple. I think He may do that again-and soon.
    The evil society called America may be the only one in history, in which millions of its people laid down their lives to protect and save the lives of their “brothers.”
    The Civil War , WW’s I and II come to mind.

    • Charity??? Which charity does Francis exude, his own or God’s? Charity is coupled with faith and hope or it’s worthless.
      Which faith does Francis exude if it’s not identifiable as Catholic? A universal one perhaps, one which cannot save a single lost soul from eternal damnation? And our hope rests completely on God’s salvation, does it not?
      Instead, he dishonors those deserving of respect while honoring those who don’t.

  40. I haven’t read Fratelli Tutti nor do I intend to since I have already formed an opinion of Francis which this article and most comments confirm.
    Francis is preaching a social gospel which places “social” at the forefront and “gospel” in the background, which in effect dilutes it, making it neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm. His “social” derives from Socialism.
    We know what the gospel says about the fate of the lukewarm.

  41. Honest constructive dialog is a social consummation much to be wished so long as it does not extend so far as to embrace my brother Cardinals

    From the Wit and Wisdom of Francis

25 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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  4. Fratelli tutti: because you should always have an opinion on a papal encyclical before you’ve read it | Pluot
  5. Woke As the Papacy (WAP): Pope Francis' New Rap on Capitalism, Borders, and Politics | Trenden Music
  6. Faithful Catholics as well as dissidents react to Pope Francis’ new ‘brotherhood’ encyclical ‘Fratelli tutti’ | Catholicism Pure & Simple
  7. 50 Things You Ever Wanted To Know About Confession, The Carthusian Rosary, And More Great Links! –
  8. Faithful Catholics as well as dissidents react to Pope Francis’ new ‘brotherhood’ encyclical ‘Fratelli tutti’ - National Association of Catholic Families
  9. Life site:Pope Francis used misleading account of Saint Francis in ‘Fratelli Tutti’: experts – chaos
  10. Life site:Faithful Catholics as well as dissidents react to Pope Francis’ new ‘brotherhood’ encyclical ‘Fratelli tutti’ – chaos
  11. Reading Fratelli Tutti on Mars Hill – Catholic World Report
  12. Reading Fratelli Tutti on Mars Hill - Catholic Daily
  13. Reading Fratelli Tutti on Mars Hill – On God's Payroll
  14. 17. Pope Francis’ economic illiteracy and the torture of the French Jesuits – freemix.
  15. RELIGION - Géraldine Claise
  16. Pope Franciss Latest Attack on Property: Its a “Secondary Right” – Real Profits for You!
  17. Pope Francis's Latest Attack on Property: It's a "Secondary Right" | Alternative News Network
  18. Pope Francis Risks Leaving A Legacy Of Confusion And Division - Conservative News Daily
  19. Pope Francis Risks Leaving A Legacy Of Confusion And Division | Political Patrol
  20. Pope Francis Risks Leaving A Legacy Of Confusion And Division ⋆ 10ztalk viral news aggregator
  21. Pope Francis’s Latest Attack on Property: It’s a “Secondary Right” – Liberty Apex
  22. Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, and the universal destination of goods – Catholic World Report
  23. Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, and the universal destination of goods - Catholic Daily
  24. Commentary on Fratelli Tutti - Together For The Common Good
  25. Fratelli Tutti este o combinație familiară de afirmații îndoielnice, argumente „om de paie” și remarci originale – [ Marginalia ] etc.

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