The Meaning of Francis’ International Politics

Issue 1708

15 September 2017

In order to trace the pope’s political map of the world and grasp the roots of his international politics, we must avoid simplification and find the right keys to interpretation. It is useful to start from his biographical and cultural roots, but it is also necessary to go beyond this.

We may distinguish four aspects of the pontiff’s politics: their kerygmatic nature, their orientation towards wholeness and unity, their origin in discernment, and the direct connection he draws between politics and charity.

Francis’ politics are kerygmatic. The term kerygma indicates the announcement of the message of Christ, the Gospel. For Francis, the announcement of the Gospel becomes political. political commitment emanates from the Gospel, and not from an ideology.

The second characteristic of Francis’ politics is inclusiveness: when we talk about politics in line with the pope’s vision, we must think of the polis as the world in its entirety. According to the pope, every policy is home policy. He sees the world as a single city, requiring a unified politics.

Politics requires a process that occurs in time through dialogue and discernment. In order to understand each other and seek out paths to unity, we need time. The Christian committed to politics knows we need a dialogue with history to uncover signs of the times, and at the same time a dialogue with God because it is He who guides people’s hearts and the course of history. This is why we must be attentive to “discerning the spirits” – as Saint Ignatius of Loyola would say – that determine relations and actions. This is the third characteristic of Pope Francis’ politics.

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