Two Key Takeaways From The Pope’s TED Talk


Published:

© Long Thiên, Flickr CC

Pope Francis gave a talk at the TED international conference, which brings in influential speakers, in Vancouver on the evening of Tuesday, April 25.

The talk – a surprise for all in the audience – recapitulated the key themes of the Argentinian pope’s view of the human person: We are all related and interconnected; scientific and technological progress must not be disconnected from social justice and care for the neighbor; and that the world needs tenderness.

I am a scholar of modern Catholicism and its relations with the world of today. From my perspective, there are two essential elements of this talk that are important to understand: the message of the pope and his use of the media.

Emphasizing Catholic Social Teaching

The message of the pope delivered in nontheological language for a larger audience comes at a time of extreme individualization of our lives. What the pope focused on is the Catholic social teaching of the “common good.”

The principle of common good, as described by the Vatican, indicates “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.” This principle proposes a society “that wishes and intends to remain at the service of the human being at every level,” to have its primary goal in the “good of all people and of the whole person.” For the human person cannot find fulfillment in himself, that is, apart from the fact that he exists “with” others and “for” others.“

In fact, there is nothing new about what the pope is teaching, except that he is talking among others to Catholics who have lost the sense of the common good and its importance. The recent debates among Catholic politicians about the repeal of health care reform is an example of this. The plan to repeal "Obamacare” included the undermining of the Affordable Care Act’s essential benefits, requirements and protections for people with preexisting conditions: a proposal of the Republican Party under the leadership of House Speaker Paul Ryan, a politician who has never hidden his Catholic faith.

But the pope is not delivering a partisan message, distinguishing between liberal and conservative Catholics. In fact, he is not even distinguishing between Catholics and the others.

The erosion of the idea of “common good” is arguably one of the effects of citizens having been reduced to consumers. This has caused many divisions between Catholics in the Western world – and particularly in the U.S.: a rift not just around “life issues” (particularly the politics of abortion), but also around the relations between government and the economy.

In recent times, many Catholic politicians, economists and businessmen have embraced a view of the economy that is dogmatic about the sovereignty of the free market. But this is not the Catholic view of the economy as it was articulated by all popes, at least from Leo XIII’s encyclical “Rerum Novarum” (1891) until today.

What Pope Francis said in his TED talk is very different from the temptations to turn Catholicism into another version of the “prosperity Gospel,” the belief that God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith. This is a temptation among many Catholics. He said,

“As I meet or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: ‘Why them and not me?’.”

Placing The Message In Context Through Media

The second element worth highlighting is Pope Francis’ use of modern communication media. There is no doubt that the internet and social media have changed the way many Catholics interact with the world. If the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century succeeded, it was also thanks to the new invention of the printing press.

A picture of Pope Francis is seen next to a statue of Jesus Christ at the altar of the Virgen de Caacupe Catholic Church at Villa 21 slum in Buenos Aires, April 18, 2014. Marcos Brindicci/ReutersReligion in the 21st-century global world has changed also thanks to the internet and social media. It has made believers more connected between themselves and at the same time more isolated.

All this takes the religious message out of context. What we say and write online tends to be made for a virtual, impersonal sphere: It does not consider the impact on real people. This happens often also for religious messages, especially in light of the success of religious and Catholic blogs. A self-proclaimed Catholic blog like “Church Militant” is an example of vitriol projected on other believers.

The pope’s novelty, therefore, is not just about the social and existential world he comes from: Buenos Aires of the slums, a capital of the Southern Hemisphere where devotional religion and secularism coexist, instead of Catholic Poland (John Paul II) or Bavaria (Benedict XVI).

It is also about recontextualizing the whole social message of Catholicism in a world where religion is often perceived more about abstract values than about everyday concerns of our fellow human beings.

Pope Francis’ emphasis on the importance to consider the real lives of real people has many implications for the Catholic Church at many levels.

Dr. Massimo Faggioli writes regularly for Italian and American newspapers and journals on the Church, religion and politics. He is contributing editor to Commonweal, and has a column in La Croix International. His books, articles, and essays have been published in eight languages. He is currently working on the history of government of the Catholic Church, on pope Francis, and on the Second Vatican Council. His latest book is Catholicism and Citizenship: Political Cultures of the Church in the Twenty-First Century (2017).

This article was republished from The Conversation.

See also:
Pope’s Climate Letter is a Radical Attack on the Logic of the Market
Taking Action Fends Off Global Indifference

The Conversation

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

November 18, 2018

It’s a delightfully lazy Sunday morning. The Moon is void of course in Pisces. Sleep late. Relax. Indulge in sentimental favorites, comfort foods, familiar songs, faces and places. Enjoy mother nature. By late morning the Moon enters “get up and go”…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

November 2018

Join us and take your intuitive skills to the next level! The goal of this series is to create a sanctuary of learning and support where all can deepen their connection to spirit, stretch...

Cost: $45

Where:
Private Office
6 Royal Crest Drive
Apt 11
North Andover, MA  01845
View map »


Sponsor: Sacred Spiral Dance
Telephone: 978-973-6637
Contact Name: Diana Harris
Website »

More information

Celebrate and give thanks for harvest of the summers effort! We have a fun line up of readers and healers providing services at sampler rates to enjoy their services while you enjoy shopping...

Cost: $60—3 15 min. sessions (45 min total), $25—15 min. session

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers—Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Unit A
Salem, MA  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers—Heavven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

Where do they go? A chat about what happens when a person passes. Where do they go? This is a question psychic medium Diane Lewis has been asked over and over again. Many of us wonder,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Together We Can New England
148 Thompson Road
Webster, MA, MA  01570
View map »


Sponsor: Together We Can New England
Telephone: 508-943-1637
Contact Name: Caryl
Website »

More information

Kinetic Chain Release, moxibustion and past life regression at Leapin Lizards. Every third Sunday: 9/16/18 10/21/18 11/18/18 12/16/18 For information, call Leapin Lizards at (207)...

Where:
Leapin Lizards
449 Forest Ave
Portland, ME
View map »


Telephone: (207) 221-2363
Website »

More information

This three-part series attunes you as a conduit to the healing system of Kundalini Reiki, a firey earth-based feminine energy. Kundalini Reiki is a gentle yet powerful modality to channel healing...

Cost: $150

Where:
Akasha Studio
20 Birch Street
Roslindale, MA  02131
View map »


Sponsor: Miriam Katz, Shamanic Healer
Telephone: 617-545-5142
Contact Name: Miriam Katz
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events
No Events

The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Contact Name: Brad Fanger

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Contact Name: Brad Fanger

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With Katie Malloy Ramaci  Expand your connection to the angels by learning IET levels 2 and 3 certification. Truly move forward on your path. Learn Soulstar activation and release...

Cost: $1099 (Early Bird $999)

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Join the Heart’s Desire Herd of Empowered Equines in Rochester, Massachusetts for an afternoon of peace and serenity. Remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Discover...

Cost: $65—some partial scholarships available

Where:
Heart’s Desire Stable
Rochester, MA  02770


Sponsor: Heart's Desire Stable
Telephone: 508-763-5254
Contact Name: Chris Korben
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags