Something extraordinary is happening and mercy is going to spread throughout the world. March 13th will mark the third year of Pope Francis’ pontificate.
Even if it is premature to express a judgment on what has been accomplished in these three years, there is no doubt that we are before one of the most innovative pontificates of history. Be it at the level of internal government or of the influence on the destiny of the world, Pope Francis is carrying out a real and just social and political revolution of global dimensions.
Among the most evident results of Pope Francis’ pontificate is the path that leads to pacification. In a world where the conflicts in fact seemed unleashed to the point of a worldwide conflagration, the Pope has triggered an effective process of peace.
The most striking signs are the “thaw” between Cuba and the United States; his direct influence throughout Latin America, especially in Colombia, where pacification is about to be reached between the government and the FARC revolutionary group; and, not least, the announcement of pacification between Chile and Bolivia.
Then peace with the Orthodox: the meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill was not only the conclusion of a course of rapprochement between the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Moscow, but the beginning of a global process of collaboration between Catholics and Orthodox, between the capitalist and the former Communist world — a historic step of which there is no idea of the gigantic effects it can have in the planet.
There are those who already perceive a spread of the best of Christian culture, from Lisbon to Vladivostock, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, with the definitive overcoming of the logic of the Cold War and of the conflict between Communism and capitalism. In this context, it will be interesting to see what emerges from the Pan-Orthodox Synod in June in Crete, which will witness the participation of leaders of all the autocephalous Churches.
Despite the wounds in the populations bordering Ukraine and Russia, in this part of Eastern Europe Christian Churches are also working for pacification. And it is easy to see the truce reached in Syria as an indirect effect of the pacification with Russia.
The Pope is not working only with Orthodox Christians, but also with Jews and Muslims. After the visit to the Synagogue, there will be a visit to the Mosque of Rome, not forgetting the renewal of the dialogue with al Azhar University, the most prestigious religious institution of Sunni Islam, visited in recent days by a delegation of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which has taken the invitation to the Grand Imam to meet the Pope.
Then there is the economic pacification. Pope Francis is trying to carry out a revolution in the society and in the economy, opposing the “throwaway culture,” utilitarianism and financial speculation, re-launching work and the appreciation of persons and families, freeing the world form the idolatry of money, which “must serve and not govern.”
The limit of the present concept of the economy is represented by the idea that all that is good for the individual is good for the economy; but this, in addition to justifying immoral behavior, is penalizing for the economy and generates false wealth and indebtedness. Moreover, the idea that the market adjusts itself is false and only justifies the abuse of power and privileges of those at the top of the economy.
What Pope Francis is trying to do, therefore, is exactly what Saint Francis and the Franciscans did in the years from 1200 to 1500, that is, to transform poverty into an opportunity for growth and money from being an oppressive master to social and civil service. The occasion is propitious considering that, in a Jubilee Year, not only the Church but also the civil authorities cancelled debts, freed slaves and reassigned lands to those who had lost them. Bergoglio’s Franciscan revolution is geared to having property in the world become a social resource rather than an egoistic and personal possession.
A key of reading to understand the principles that the Argentine Pontiff is indicating to surmount the economic and moral crisis is to render Franciscan socio-economic thought current and practicable, making of cooperation and sharing between State, market and civil society a model in which poverty from being a problem becomes a resource, and money from being an egoistic master becomes a docile servant to foster work, investments and real production. In this context, “the poor are considered a resource to which to give continued answers in terms of development and employment.”
Economic and civil development has always been characterized in history by investment in less well-off parts. The incentive to do works of charity, to promote production and the sharing of goods is the turnkey of peoples and civilizations that determined the development of peoples and of civilizations.
According to Franciscans like Friar Pietro di Giovanni Olivi (1248-12989) capital, which in and of itself is non-productive becomes productive, social and human when it finds investment and work, because money does not multiply on its own, but must be immersed in the productive process.
And Saint Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) and his fellow friars who speak “of the ethical function of the entrepreneur and of business” as well as of the fair distribution of business profit, of the “grace” of free and creative “work,” expression of the exercise of one’s talents in favor of the common good; of financial resources as social goods; of the importance of the human before the State; of institutional, juridical, economic and social simplification as root from which the principle of subsidiarity stems ever proposed by the Social Doctrine of the Church.
With the encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis translates the Franciscan revolution in modern terms and proposes a social, economic and political revolution, taking up the same concepts of the “Poverello of Assisi.”
With Laudato Si’, Pope Francis wants to re-establish peace between God, humanity and creation in a dynamic dimension of social and civil development.