Reading: Fratelli Tutti

> 2020-12-17

This is a breakdown of the encyclical Fratelli Tutti [1] written by Pope Francis.

The encyclical covers a wide range of topics and displays a generally more political tone while attempting to balance diverging viewpoints. Sometimes this leads to over-simplification or self-contradiction.

This note primarily discusses socio-economic subjects and reference numbers are provided for the appropriate sections of the encyclical.

Topic Summary Comments
Culture Exporting or copying cultural models reduces national identity (#51) and different cultures are not enemies (#147). This ignores that some cultures are objectively better at protecting human rights (e.g. abolishing slavery).
Immigration Improve origin nations to reduce unnecessary migration and avoid building welfare programs for migrants (#129) but establish comprehensive programs for necessary migration situations (#130). Somewhat contradictory program scope points; providing local-level assistance and exporting state-level national improvements is likely a better and more targeted approach.
Localism Globalism erodes national identity (#12), focus scope from local to global (#78), avoid universal, central planning (#100), balance nationalism and humanitarianism (#149), local organizations are more knowledgeable in local situations than global organizations are (#175). Local problem solving better accounts for risk and resource assessments and avoids “one size fits all” solutions.
Economics Reducing labor cost in production can produce negative consequences (#20), consumerism is destructive (#36), opportunities should include assistance to vulnerable individuals (#108), economics must not supersede human rights (#122), markets cannot solve all problems (#168). Correctly states that economics must be human-centric and markets cannot solve all problems; however there are over-simplifications since reduced product costs make resources more available (e.g. cheaper food) and advance better technology (e.g. from coal to nuclear energy).
Poverty Wealth has increased along with inequality and new forms of poverty (#21). This point ignores that absolute poverty has drastically declined in recent decades. [2]
Individualism Waiting for government-provided opportunities is irresponsible (#77), community relationships enrich self-definition (#89), equality does not induce fraternity (#103), individual differences build cultures (#218). Unique individuals with charitable hearts working collaboratively build the strongest social fabrics; similar strength cannot be produced by legislative dictates.
Charity Charity cannot be issued through one solution and must be through individual action (#165), moral formation drives individual charity (#167), and legislation can establish charity (#186). The first two points conflict with the last which favors top-down solutions rather than individually-driven charitable interaction.
Borders Borders cannot exclude resource access (#121 and #124), prosperous nations should support needy nations (#125). Disolving borders reduces local self-determination by removing a citizen’s right to their produced resources but arbitrary migration restrictions are also unproductive. A more “natural” border could be established via a citizen’s dividend. [3].
Work Economic goal of no stragglers (#110), using talents in work is noble (#123), and dignity is found in work (#162). Somewhat utopian in vision and will likely never be realized but points regarding self-sufficiency and “noble work” are practically achievable.
Nuclear Weapons Peace and trust cannot be established through threat of violence (#262). While trust may not be built, peace certainly can - nuclear proliferation has coincided with decreased intensity of violent conflicts. [4].
Indigenous Peopls Natives are less violent and more egalitarian (#220). This conflicts with history; in the Americas tribal and imperial warfare was common as were their prehistoric contributions to early megafaunal exinctions. [5]
Public Order Law enforcment is required in charitable societies (#164). Safety and community organization cannot exist without a shared, enforced legal framework.
Private Property All humans are shared stewards of world natural resources (#120). This is in-line with Georgism [6] without denying the right to personally produced products.

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