Lesson 6: Globalism

Global FriendshipIf the most controversial part of “Fratelli Tutti” is its economic critique, Pope Francis’ promotion of global friendship is second. In some circles, being a globalist is almost as bad as being a socialist.

One of the biggest conspiracy theories thrown around by the “religious wrong” warns believers that any call for worldwide organization is part of a plot by a secret international syndicate designed to destroy the church. One of these fear mongers, the notorious Jim Bakker, charges the encyclical shows the Pope is a socialist who is unwittingly being used by a worldwide cabal attempting to reset society.

However, fear of global organizations is not confined to religious sillies. Militant nationalism has emerged all over the world. In my nation, demonstrators show their patriotism by defiantly waving flags while chanting “USA! USA! USA!” Politicians feel the need to constantly talk of America First to stand up against globalism and communism.

The Pope recognizes these attitudes deny reality in a world where electronic media and modern mobility force us to relate daily with many different world cultures. He writes, “We need to attain a global juridical, political and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity.” (#38)

Consistent with his encyclical’s primary principle, he maintains this order should include care for the vulnerable. That means “giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making” and facilitating “access to the international market on the part of countries suffering from poverty and underdevelopment.”

The Pope also insists this new world order should share cultural values as much as technological, economic, scientific, and medical advancements. A diversity that would truly enrich the global society would not denigrate the customs of any decent people. “ Just as there can be no dialogue with “others” without a sense of our own identity, so there can be no openness between peoples except on the basis of love for one’s own land, one’s own people, one’s own cultural roots.” (#43)

Unlike his predecessors, Francis does not believe this order has to preserve European culture. In #136, he suggests, “The West can discover in the East remedies for those spiritual and religious maladies that are caused by a prevailing materialism. And the East can find in the West many elements that can help free it from weakness, division, conflict and scientific, technical and cultural decline.”

Although he refrains, perhaps refuses, to draw a picture of any new political organization required by this order, he gives some indication of his thought in the way he operates the global institution he leads. His synodical approach has the Vatican layout general teachings that dioceses around the world are expected to apply according to their particular situations. The Pope’s words echo “think globally, act locally.”

The overriding purpose of his letter might well be drawing attention to the global nature of many of our current problems. The Pope starts his argument for this new world order with a call for welcoming, protecting, and helping refugees and immigrants. Loving our neighbor in this time includes recognizing how our own lifestyles contribute to the expansion of the deserts, the terror of drug cartels, and the poverty of undeveloped nations. Once we see we are part of the problem, we are more likely to take responsibility for solving it. And the Pope claims this necessitates working together in some kind of world order.

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