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Pope Francis warns against a politics of individualism in a post-Covid world

4 October 2020

Sunday 4 October 2020

Pope Francis in his latest encyclical, ‘Fratelli Tutti’, throws down the gauntlet, calling for a new world order with human dignity at its centre.   

“Pope Francis is unflinching in his message”, says Christine Allen, director of Catholic aid agency, CAFOD. She continued, “politics is failing the poor, and it is shameful that some political decisions that are made affect the poorest, plunging them further into poverty, suffering and despair. Politics should be about long-term change and effective solutions, not slogans and marketing.”  

In his encyclical Pope Francis states: “Political life no longer has to do with healthy debates about long-term plans to improve people’s lives and to advance the common good, but only with slick marketing techniques primarily aimed at discrediting others...” 

“In the beginning, the coronavirus showed us that we could come together, and recognise that what affects one of us, affects us all. But Francis condemns the rush to return to politics ‘as normal’– one of self-interest and indifference to the plight of those left behind”, said Allen.  

While one part of humanity lives in opulence, another part sees its own dignity denied, scorned or trampled upon, and its fundamental rights discarded or violated…” 

“This is a message not just to Catholics, or people of other faiths, it is to everyone”, said Allen. “It is a powerful voice amid the pandemic, growing inequality, conflict and racial unrest. Pope Francis’s message is clear, we cannot just switch on the re-set button and go back to ‘normal’”.

The encyclical warns against a rampant culture of individualism, nationalism, and economic models that line the pockets of the rich, at the expensive of our collective ‘silence’ on pressing issues such as global poverty and hunger, the proliferation of more wars and the structures and systems that de-humanise the individual.  

Allen said: “This encyclical is a radical blueprint for a post-coronavirus world. Now is the time to change the framework of our economic systems, through debt relief for the poorest countries, the reduction of inequality, and investment in local, green, sustainable economic development.”  

The Pope’s vision of the future is one rooted in human solidarity. 

“Solidarity means much more than engaging in sporadic acts of generosity. It means thinking and acting in terms of community. It means that the lives of all are prior to the appropriation of goods by a few. It also means combatting the structural causes of poverty, inequality, the lack of work, land and housing, the denial of social and labour rights. It means confronting the destructive effects of the empire of money… Solidarity, understood in its most profound meaning, is a way of making history, and this is what popular movements are doing…” 

Allen concluded: “The encyclical holds up a vision for real and lasting change, by calling on us to build community at all levels – personal, societal and global, where walls of fear and distrust are replaced by a ‘culture of encounter’, and our solidarity with others restores human dignity”.

Notes to editor:

  • CAFOD spokespeople are available for commentary and analysis on Fratelli Tutti. Please call Nana Anto-Awuakye on 07799 477 541.  A press officer is available 24 hours a day on 07919 301429

  • ‘Fratelli Tutti’, is the third encyclical from Pope Francis, inspired by the teachings of his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, the saint of poverty, care for creation and peace. 

  • A PDF of Pope Francis’s encyclical ‘Fratelli Tutti’ can be found here

  • CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and part of Caritas International. Across the world we bring hope and compassion to poor communities, standing side by side with them to end poverty and injustice. Because we work through the local Church, we can reach people and places that others cannot.