An introduction to #FratelliTutti by @DrSamuelGregg

To all the people who are asking me to comment on Tutti FruttiFrutti FratelliFratelli Tutti… I suggest my friend Sam Gregg’s solid introduction to the document at Catholic World Report.

A few of his comments follow.  And, while Gregg is rightly critical of some of the clearly goofy stuff in the encyclical – goofy and, I think, dangerous in one point – he also states that there are good elements.

Thus, Gregg…

[…]

Despite its length, there’s little in this text that we have not heard Francis say before in one form or another.

[…]

Gregg is an expert on economics.

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.

[…]

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.

[…]

The dangerous point (my words):

Saint Francis and the Sultan

[…]

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”

[…]

Francis of Assisi is portrayed as engaging in some sort of interfaith prayer breakfast.  In fact, Francis went to the Sultan to covert him… knowing full well that he could be martyred.  The saint engaged in exactly what his namesake says we must not do.  Read frequent commentator here Fr. Thompson’s book on Francis.   Francis of Assisi: A New Biography US HERE – UK HERE  I have a post HERE about the meeting between Francis and the Sultan.  HERE

When a figure who has huge megaphone, world-wide attention, and who claims a super high moral ground and authority completely distorts the facts of an historical event he risks not only his own authority but respect for the office he holds.  That’s dangerous.

Finally, Gregg observes…

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.

I take you now back to the opening of Gregg’s piece:

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).

Will Fratelli leave a lasting impression?   It is possible that it will on the tens of people who are patient enough to read all of it.   The sheer length of this document lessens the likelihood that it will make a big impact.    Alas, this is part and parcel of the age of word processors and writing in the vernacular.  Once upon a time, encyclicals were tight and focused and people read them.  Then things changed and they got longer and longer and longer.  Furthermore, the desire to say everything often results in saying everything inadequately.

Earlier today, I posted a serious misuse of St. Augustine in a footnote in Francis’ denial of the possibility of “just war”.  Frankly, Francis’ language in Tutti is so hedged that he does NOT in fact make any sort of definitive statement against “just war”.  For my part, his credibility is lessened with using Augustine that way.

One of the people who asked me if I would comment on Fratelli added with a twist of wry humor, “I hope you read it so I don’t have to.”

Please share this post!
Share

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Pope Francis, The Drill and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to An introduction to #FratelliTutti by @DrSamuelGregg

  1. donato2 says:

    I’m a lawyer. I’ve often commented that long legal opinions tend to be much less influential than short ones simply because people lack the patience to read the long ones. It is also the case that brevity tends to be a mark of good writing and hard thinking. Undue length is commonly the result of failure to think things through and as a consequence not eliminate the extraneous.

  2. pgs says:

    Dear Fr. Z,
    I only made it one quarter of the way before quitting. I was interested to read how the death penalty is handled. (Fr. Martin/America wrote: “Pope Francis’ new encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti,” does something that some Catholics believed could not be done: It ratifies a change in church teaching. In this case, on the death penalty.”
    If you do get around to reading it all, can you share your thoughts on how the death penalty is or is not part of the deposit of faith and how this is or is not a change in church teaching?
    Many thanks and prayers.

  3. bartlep says:

    This link isn’t related to this subject exactly, but my bishop seems to be very in line with PF. This article was in the San Diego diocesan newspaper, giving “guidelines for voting “.
    https://www.thesoutherncross.org/bishops/conscience-candidates-and-discipleship-in-voting/

  4. Tooksam says:

    “encyclicals were tight and focused and people read them.”
    Seems to describe Pope Benedict’s encyclicals. I have to admit I haven’t read any of Pope Francis encyclicals except the first one which was based on a draft of Pope Benedict.

  5. Ms. M-S says:

    Far from praising St. Francis as purveyor of religious minimalist brotherhood, the Sultan was floored by the saint’s audacity in coming to convert him—perhaps even touched by a fleeting moment of grace. It’s deplorable to see the story used as a tool in the deconstruction of the Faith.

  6. Percusio says:

    It is no wonder that Catholics have become non-militant, even at times wondering if Pope St. John Paul II was encouraging pacifism which he denied. You wonder what is in store in the near future when the Holy Father tells underground Chinese to be obedient to those in power while their churches are being destroyed and holy pictures in the churches being replaced by communist leaders, following, I assume, “Saint Francis [who] 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”. To these atheists we must willingly become subjects. While, when it comes to various political entities of western culture there is no similar directive but, “…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.” What is he preparing us for in the near future, what form of government is he asking us to accept that we should become obedient subjects with a non-combative transition while casting off western democracy and its inherently evil capitalistic economic/political system?

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    I cannot let this go without commenting on the extreme misinterpretation of this passage about the Sultan (and in an encyclical!). Here is the full paragraph from the: The First Rule of Saint Francis (The Rule Unconfirmed by Bull) by Paul Schwartz, O.F.M. and Paul Lachance, O.F.M., in The Birth of a Movement: A Study of the First Rule of St Francis (Franciscan Herald Press) pp. 63-85.

    “16. (Those who go among the Saracens and other unbelievers.)

    The Lord says: “Behold, I am sending you forth like sheep in the midst of wolves. Be therefore prudent like serpents and simple like doves” (Mt. 10:16).

    Hence, whoever of the brothers, by divine inspiration, wishes to go among the Saracens and other unbelievers, they (sic) may go with the permission of their minister and servant. The minister then should give them permission and not oppose them, if he sees that they are fit to be sent, for he will be held accountable to the Lord if in this or in other matters he has proceeded without discretion.

    The brothers who go can conduct themselves spiritually among (the unbelievers) in two ways. One way is not to quarrel or dispute, but “to be subject to every creature for God’s sake” (1 Pt. 2:13) and to acknowledge that they (themselves) are Christians. Another way is to proclaim the word of God when they see it pleases God in order that (the unbelievers) might believe in God the almighty Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the Creator of all and in the redeeming and saving Son, so that they might be baptized and become Christians, for “he who is not born again of water and the Holy Spirit cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:5). These and other things which will please the Lord they can speak to them and to others, for the Lord says in the gospel: “Everyone who acknowledges me before men I will also acknowledge him before my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 10:32). And: “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in his majesty and that of the Father and the angels” (Lk. 9:26).

    And all the brothers, wherever they are, should remember that they have given themselves and have abandoned their bodies to the Lord Jesus Christ. And for his love they must expose it to enemies, whether visible or invisible, for the Lord says: “Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it (Mt.8:35) for eternal life. Blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 5:10). If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also (Jn 15:20). If they persecute you in one city, flee to another (Mt. 10:23). Blessed are you when men will hate you and persecute you and accuse you of evil and vomit your name as an evil thing and when they will falsely speak all manner of evil against you for my sake. Rejoice on that day and exult for your reward is great in heaven (Lk. 6:22; Mt. 5:11; Lk. 6:23). I say to you, my friends, do not be afraid of these things. And do not fear those who kill the body and afterwards have nothing more they can do (Lk. 12:4; Mt. 10:28). See that you are not troubled (Mt. 24:6). By your suffering you will possess your souls (Lk. 21:19). He who will have persevered to the end will be saved” (Mt. 10:22).”

    Now, the gloss on 1 Pet 2:13 says:

    13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,* whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. 17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
    18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing. 19 For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,g that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

    Clearly, St. Peter is talking about SECULAR authority, not religious infidels.

    The verb, hypotass?, means to subject oneself or be submissive, but it is clear from the entire sentence: to be subject to every creature for God’s sake” (1 Pt. 2:13) and to acknowledge that they (themselves) are Christians that by their submission to bad men, they were to prove their gentleness as Christians, but that submission did not extend to doing anything that would be against the Christian faith, otherwise, their witness would be contradictory and useless. In fact, in those areas, they were to resist with every fiber of their being. Also, the whole purpose of chapter 16 is to demonstrate two ways of converting (get that, Pope Francis?) infidels: a passive way, by demonstrating Christian character or an active way, by discourse and argumentation.

    Pope Francis is so far wrong on interpreting this passage as to actually be insulting to St. Francis. Conversion was always at the forefront of St. Francis’s mind, not submission to the ungodly. What does St. Francis suggest a Christian do: when ISIS say to a captured Christian, “profess that there is one God, Allah and Mohammad is his prophet,” that they are to say, “yes, master, I submit?” Is he really so confused about the difference between the meaning of submission as it relates to Islam and Christianity that he would pull this misinterpreted quote from the early Franciscan Rule to justify being passive in the presence of an infidel? There is a time to be passive (as was Christ before Pilate, although He pressed Pilate to see the truth) and a time to be active. The passivity, the submissiveness in the Rule, is ordered towards witness, not a general recommendation.

    In fact, this entire passage is NOT in the Rule of 1223 that accepted by Papal bull. Here is how the official passage reads:

    Chapter 12. Of those who wish to go among the Saracens and other unbelievers
    If any of the friars is inspired by God to go among the Saracens or other unbelievers, he must ask permission from his provincial minister. The ministers, for their part, are to give permission only to those whom they see are fit to be sent. The Ministers, too, are bound to ask the Pope for one of the cardinals of the holy Roman Church to be governor, protector, and corrector of this fraternity, so that we may be utterly subject and submissive to the Church. And so, firmly established in the Catholic faith, we may live always according to the poverty, and the humility, and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we have solemnly promised.

    In my opinion, Pope Francis has badly misinterpreted this passage and used it in a context it was never intended.

    The Chicken

  8. Tooksam says:

    Your comment reminded me of George Orwell rules for clear and tight prose:

    (i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

    (ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

    (iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

    (iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

    (v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

    (vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

  9. Tooksam says:

    My comment was in reply to Donato2.

  10. jthall95 says:

    Thank you Father for this commentary. Of course I think the most concerning thing about the encyclical is not what is says about economics or about St Francis, but about what it says regarding “the witness of believers of all religions to God” as if God is somehow pleased by religious believers in all religions. Which is crazy talk (though one can get the impression from Nostra Aetate that the Church now teaches that). And then there was calling life imprisonment a “second form of the death penalty.” Needless to say, with every passing week, Archbishop Lefebvre is more and more vindicated about what has happened in the Church.

  11. paulc0820 says:

    Hmm, I think I will skip this encyclical and stick with “On Resistance to Evil by Force” by Ilyin. We appear to be headed down a similar path with the Vatican leading the way.

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    Sam Gregg wrote:

    “Despite its length, there’s little in this text that we have not heard Francis say before in one form or another.”

    Indeed.

    Francis has yet to answer the Dubia or release the McCarrick Report, but there was time for arranging Pachamama rituals at St. Peter’s and producing this lengthy piece of writing dubbed “Fratelli tutti.”

    Last month Cardinal Zen flew from Hong Kong to meet Francis, who refused to meet with the Cardinal apparently because Francis was “too busy.”

    With Cardinal Zen and Francis’ refusal to meet (“walking together”) in mind, here is “Fratelli tutti”:

    76. Let us turn at last to the injured man. There are times when we feel like him, badly hurt and left on side of the road. We can also feel helpless because our institutions are neglected and lack resources, or simply serve the interests of a few, without and within. Indeed, “globalized society often has an elegant way of shifting its gaze. Under the guise of being politically correct or ideologically fashionable, we look at those who suffer without touching them. We televise live pictures of them, even speaking about them with euphemisms and with apparent tolerance”.[59]

    Footnote 59:

    [59] Message to the Meeting of Popular Movements, Modesto, California, United States of America (10 February 2017): AAS 109 (2017), 291.

    The so-called “Message from Modesto” is an anti-Christian, anti-American, race-baiting piece of agit-prop. This pontificate has serious problems.

  13. JamesF-J says:

    I have struggled about half way through so far. One thing that leaped out at me that no-one has commented on so far is this (para 136): ‘The West can discover in the East remedies for those spiritual and religious maladies that are caused by a prevailing materialism.’ Surely the remedy for the spiritual and religious maladies of the West should be the rediscovery of traditional western Christianity not Islam? Yes Christianity is Eastern in origin – but in the context of this paragraph Pope Francis is clearly referring to the contemporary East not the Orient of 2000 years ago – Astonishing!

  14. ChrisP says:

    Reading the comments, looking at Francis’ own words and considering the world today, one is drawn to a conclusion that PF appears preoccupied with undoing his namesakes work.

    St Francis asserted Christianity and righteous living in the middle of a just war.
    Pope Francis in FT appears to subdue Christianity, so that any kind of living can be deemed righteous, just to avoid a war.

    Which makes one think: hope the Pope is isn’t called Peter, who does a similar thing.

  15. JakeMC says:

    It really is a pity that schools don’t really teach critical thinking anymore, or anyone who read that part about St. Francis and the Saracens would have noticed immediately, and just on skimming the thing, the gulf-sized disparity between what the saint said and what the pope said. (What they call “critical thinking” in universities today is really a bunch of…To quote Fr. Z himself here, B as in B, S as in S.

  16. acardnal says:

    “Free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity.” – Larry Kudlow

  17. acardnal says:

    Tooksam, Donato2: I love your comments and concur.

  18. Semper Gumby says:

    Sam Gregg makes good points:

    “…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.”

    “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.”

    Free-market economics is Catholic, socialism is anti-Catholic.

    See Chapter 10 “Founders of Free-market Economics” in Fr. Slattery’s “Heroism and Genius: How Catholic Priests Helped Build- And Can Help Rebuild- Western Civilization.

    See Chapter 8 “The Church and Economics” and Chapter 9 “How Catholic Charity Changed The World” in Thomas Woods’ “How The Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.”

    See the “Parable of the Talents” by Jesus Christ.

  19. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z wrote:

    “Francis of Assisi is portrayed as engaging in some sort of interfaith prayer breakfast. In fact, Francis went to the Sultan to covert him…knowing full well that he could be martyred.”

    “When a figure who has a huge megaphone, world-wide attention, and who claims a superior high moral ground and authority completely distorts the facts of an historical event he risks not only his own authority but respect for the office he holds. That’s dangerous.”

    October 10 is the anniversary of the Battle of Tours, a battle in France in 732 that saved the West from an invading Islamic army. The Frankish Army that held the line that day was led by Charles “The Hammer” Martel, grandfather of Charlemagne.

    Historian Victor Davis Hanson on the Battle of Tours:

    “When the sources speak of “a wall,” “a mass of ice,” and “immovable lines” of infantrymen, we should imagine a literal human rampart, nearly invulnerable, with locked shields in front of armored bodies, weapons extended to catch the underbellies of any Islamic horsemen foolish enough to hit the Franks at a gallop.”

    Stand Catholic Men.

  20. Semper Gumby says:

    Sam Gregg:

    “That said, Fratelli tutti 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.”

    Two quotes from Thomas Sowell:

    “Ultimately, our choice is to give up Utopian quests or give up our freedom. This has been recognized for centuries by some, but many others have not yet faced that reality, even today. If you think government should ‘do something’ about anything that ticks you off, or anything you want and don’t have, then you have made your choice between Utopia and freedom.”

    “What is also the price of freedom is the toleration of imperfections. If everything that is wrong with the world becomes a reason to turn more power over to some political savior, then freedom is going to erode away, while we are mindlessly repeating the catchwords of the hour, whether ‘change,’ ‘universal health care’ or ‘social justice.’”

  21. Semper Gumby says:

    “Francis of Assisi is portrayed as engaging in some sort of interfaith prayer breakfast. In fact, Francis went to the Sultan to convert him…knowing full well that he could be martyred.”

    And now this (h/t Taylor Marshall):

    “Catholic children in Loreto school in Dublin forced to listen to Muslim prayer to Allah in name of ‘Prophet Muhammad’ alongside priest. The priest stood in an Islamic prayer stance during the sermon and the Catholic students were also forced to listen to a reading from the Koran”

    https://www.twitter.com/CatholicArena/status/1314619209587003392

Comments are closed.