Dr. Leonard DeLorenzo of Notre Dame joins me on the Catholic School Matters podcast to discuss Part 4 of Fratelli Tutti (chapters 5 & 6) which focuses on politics and dialogue.  Pope Francis is calling out politicians—and all of us—to a higher form of politics.  But first, he discusses the dangers of populist movements which are taking hold around the world.

In recent years, the words ‘populism’ and ‘populist’ have invaded the communications media and everyday conversation. As a result, they have lost whatever value they might have had, and have become another source of polarization in an already divided society… Nowadays it has become impossible for someone to express a view on any subject without being categorized one way or the other, either to be unfairly discredited or to be praised to the skies (paragraph 156)

The new type of politics calls for us to heed the call of the vulnerable.  After all, we need to be mindful of the suffering around us and try to alleviate it to the best of our ability.  If that became our goal in politics, we would be less concerned with winning and competition.

There are plenty of examples of the contradictions and competitive ethos of politics and Dr. DeLorenzo and I spend a little time talking about them as well as exploring issues like Obama’s speech at Notre Dame and the support many Catholics have for the death penalty.

Francis calls us to tenderness and love and we discuss how tenderness seems to have little place in our politics.  After all, the parable of the Good Samaritan calls us to express the interior movement of tenderness, which leads us to discuss what Christian masculinity means. Without tenderness and kindness, we lose the meaning of charity. “Kindness frees us from the cruelty that at times infects human relationships, from the anxiety that prevents us from thinking of others, from the frantic flurry of activity that forgets that others also have a right to be happy” (224).

Chapter six focuses on truth and dialogue. Francis cautions us against relativism. “We need to learn how to unmask the various ways that the truth is manipulated, distorted and concealed in public and private discourse” (208).  Shouldn’t we all be spending a little bit more time (especially as educators!) working on how to unmask the information. “Relativism always brings the risk that some or other alleged truth will be imposed by the powerful or the clever” (209).  Again, the consistent theme of knowing one’s history is important to recognize.

Dr. DeLorenzo talked about looking for the assumptions underlying arguments and the agendas which shift the interpretations of data. He argues for the power of concentration and giving students proper material to focus on. The purpose of the podcast is to help you in your study of Fratelli.  Please join in the study and look for resources posted here.