Catholic School Matters

February 22, 2021

Pope Francis & the Politics We Need

Dr. Leonard DeLorenzo of Notre Dame joins me on the Catholic School Matters podcast to discuss Part 4 of Fratelli Tutti (chapters 5 & 6) which focuses on politics and dialogue. Pope Francis is calling out politicians—and all of us—to a higher form of politics. But first, he discusses the dangers of populist movements which are taking hold around the world.


In recent years, the words ‘populism’ and ‘populist’ have invaded the communications media and everyday conversation. As a result, they have lost whatever value they might have had, and have become another source of polarization in an already divided society… Nowadays it has become impossible for someone to express a view on any subject without being categorized one way or the other, either to be unfairly discredited or to be praised to the skies (paragraph 156)


The new type of politics calls for us to heed the call of the vulnerable. After all, we need to be mindful of the suffering around us and try to alleviate it to the best of our ability. If that became our goal in politics, we would be less concerned with winning and competition.

There are plenty of examples of the contradictions and competitive ethos of politics and Dr. DeLorenzo and I spend a little time talking about them as well as exploring issues like Obama’s speech at Notre Dame and the support many Catholics have for the death penalty.


Francis calls us to tenderness and love and we discuss how tenderness seems to have little place in our politics. After all, the parable of the Good Samaritan calls us to express the interior movement of tenderness, which leads us to discuss what Christian masculinity means. Without tenderness and kindness, we lose the meaning of charity. “Kindness frees us from the cruelty that at times infects human relationships, from the anxiety that prevents us from thinking of others, from the frantic flurry of activity that forgets that others also have a right to be happy” (224).


Chapter six focuses on truth and dialogue. Francis cautions us against relativism. “We need to learn how to unmask the various ways that the truth is manipulated, distorted and concealed in public and private discourse” (208). Shouldn’t we all be spending a little bit more time (especially as educators!) working on how to unmask the information. “Relativism always brings the risk that some or other alleged truth will be imposed by the powerful or the clever” (209). Again, the consistent theme of knowing one’s history is important to recognize.


Dr. DeLorenzo talked about looking for the assumptions underlying arguments and the agendas which shift the interpretations of data. He argues for the power of concentration and giving students proper material to focus on. The purpose of the podcast is to help you in your study of Fratelli. Please join in the study and look for resources posted here.


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Dr. Tim Uhl

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Here is the curated list of Catholic schools closing at the end of the 2021 school year and new schools opening for the 2021-22 year.

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Catholic School Matters podcast

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What I'm Reading

    The Last 5 Books:

    1. A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith (2020) by Timothy Egan
    2. Doing Mercy: A Path to Contemplation (2020) by Joseph V. Corpora, CSC

    3. The Church's Best-Kept Secret: A Primer on Catholic Social Teaching (2020) by Mark P. Shea

    4. The Gunning of America: Business & the Making of American Gun Culture (2016) by Pamela Haag

    5. Nuance: Why Some Leaders Succeed & Others Fail (2019) by Michael Fullan

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            Feb 15, 2021 "Fraternity of All"

            Feb 8, 2021 "Mercy"

            Feb 1, 2021 "Fratelli Tutti"

            Jan 25, 2021 "The Common Good"

            Jan 18, 2021 "School Boundaries"

            Jan 11, 2021 "Reading List on Racism"

            Jan 4, 2021 12 Days of Christmas Podcasts

            Nov 9, 2020 "God in Disguise"

            Nov 2, 2020 "Sharks and Survival"

            Oct 26, 2020 "Mt. Rushmore Controversy"

            Oct 19, 2020 "The Cleveland Partnership"

            Oct 5, 2020 "Governance Reform"

            Sep 28, 2020 "Autonomy & Radar"

            Sep 21, 2020 "Learning While Doing"

            Sep 14, 2020 "Connecting the Disconnected"

            Aug 31, 2020 "Racial Injustice"

            Aug 24, 2020 "Figuring it Out"

            Aug 17, 2020 Serenity Prayer

            May 24, 2020 Value Proposition During Uncertain Times


            For previous newsletters, click this link

            Orchestrating Conflict

            A couple of years ago I set out to write a book which would explore the challenges of Catholic school leadership. My premise that there are no easy answers and that we have to learn from our (and other's) mistakes in order to form a mindset appropriate for orchestrating conflict proved prescient as we all faced completely new and unexpected challenges in 2020. The book,Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation.