On December 2, 2020, Pope Francis published a book entitled Let Us Dream (Simon and Schuster) with the subtitle: A Path to a Better Future.
This article is the second part of the review devoted to this work, the result of his interviews with British journalist Austen Ivereigh, who is also his biographer (The Great Reformer – Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope).
Bergoglian “Excesses” and Hegelian “Overflow”
The sophistic casuistry found in the Pope's latest book is reminiscent of the four postulates posed by the Pope in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium (2013), in particular the second: “unity prevails over conflict,” which he justified thus: “The best way to deal with conflict… is the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process” (no.226).
This approach to conflict is based on the principle “indispensable to the building of friendship in society [see the subtitle of Fratelli tutti]: namely, that unity is greater than conflict” (no. 228). This principle inspires the concept of “reconciled diversity” (no. 230), recurrent in Francis’ teaching, especially in the ecumenical domain.
But as Fr. Giovanni Scalese noted on his blog Querculanus on May 10, 2016: “The big problem with this postulate is that it presupposes a dialectical view of reality very similar to Hegel’s.”
He commented: “This ‘resolution [of the conflict] on a higher plane’ is very reminiscent of the Hegelian Aufhebung [central concept of Hegel’s philosophy expressing the process of overcoming a dialectical contradiction, where the opposing elements are at the same time affirmed and eliminated, maintained but not hypostasized, in a conciliatory synthesis. Editor's note]. So it does not seem a coincidence that in no. 230, there is a question of a ‘synthesis.’ which logically requires a ‘thesis’ and an ‘antithesis’ (the poles in conflict with each other).”
To Fr. Scalese’s scholarly analysis, we will be permitted to add the pithy and not very academic observation of the academic Pierre Boutang: “thesis - antithesis - rubbish!”
As the FSSPX.News editorial on November 30, 2020 said, it is “the conciliar praxis at work,” and Francis at the helm: “Such is the “merciful” pastoral care of the Pope: it theoretically supports the doctrine which it destroys in practice, - nominally in the Catholic line, concretely in thrall of the spirit of the world. It was already written in Amoris laetitia where “remarried” divorcees could be admitted, on a case by case basis, to Eucharistic communion… Morals evolve, pastoral care adapts, and dogma bends to these accommodations on a case-by-case basis... The conciliar aggiornamento is a permanent update, an incessant updating.”
This overcoming of the conflict, the Pope calls it “overflowing,” and this term, which refers to hydraulics more than to dogmatics, is perfectly chosen to designate “liquid” thought.
In the Nuova Bussola Quotidiana [New Daily Compass] of October 5, 2020, Stefano Fontana already wrote about the encyclical Fratelli tutti to which Let Us Dream is the follow-up: “And the word became liquid,” specifying: “a fluid-like text that can be broken down and reassembled to form propositions of various degrees which uses phrases and clichés that now belong to a well-established lexicon and which have become mechanically repetitive.”
A Time to Take Stock
Faced with so much confusion, we can understand the reaction of historian Edouard Husson on the Atlantico site, on October 12, 2020—about Fratelli tutti,—who did not envisage “a time for change,” but more realistically, “a time to take stock”: “More and more numerous are the lay voices, especially in North America, who are recalling the Pope to the contents of the Magisterium.”
“Scandalous? No, when the Pope has the temptation to lay down the burden of the Magisterium, it is healthy for some of his brothers to come and remind him of his duty. The ‘servant of the servants of God’ has duties which he cannot shirk.… Lay resistance—well deserving of the fine qualification of ‘faithful’—at the Amazon synod in autumn 2019, was a harbinger of the work of taking stock that will have to be done in the months and years to come, to separate the wheat from the chaff in the teachings of Francis. And I join the group of questioners to say to Francis, filially: ‘Most Holy Father, do not forget to be Pope!’”