POPE FRANCIS ON DEMOCRACY
Keywords:Catholic Social Thought, Democracy, Pope Francis, Social Encyclicals, Social Ethics, Social Teaching of the Church
This article makes a brief introduction to the history of the development of the social teaching of the Church on democracy. Then it identifies and analyses fifteen relevant statements about democracy in the writings and speeches of Pope Francis between 2014 and 2020. Pope Francis through his writings and speeches reflects and further develops the concept of democracy in the social teaching of the Church. He uses positive terms about democracy as “inclusive and participatory democracy,” “strengthening of political and social democracy” and critical terms. For example, democracies according to him are “under the pressure” of “uniform systems of economic power,” it faces the danger of “subtle dictatorship,” “democracy atrophies,” it can become “democracy of words”; “nominal democracy,” extremism and populism can make “debilitating of the democratic system.” Besides, those statements are examined and put into context with current trends in politics and the theoretical study of democracy. Statements of Pope Francis give the impression that he is a relatively radical critic of the weaknesses of contemporary democracies and a supporter of its more radical forms.
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants in the 3rd World Meeting of Popular Movements, Paul VI Audience Hall, 5 November 2016, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2016/november/documents/papa-francesco_20161105_movimenti-popolari.html
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants in the International Conference of the Christian Union of the Business Executives (UNIAPAC), Sala Regia, 17 November 2016, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/ speeches/2016/ november/documents/papa-francesco_20161117_conferenza-uniapac.html
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants in the Workshop on Changing Relations among Market, State and Civil Society, Clementine Hall, 20 October 2017, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2017/ october/documents/papa-francesco_20171020_incontro-pass.pdf
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, Aula del Sinodo, 28 October 2017, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2017/october/documents/papa-francesco_20171028_conferenza-comece.html
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See for the Traditional Exchange of New Year Greetings, Regia Hall, 7 January 2019, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/ speeches/2020/january/documents/papa-francesco_20200109_corpo-diplomatico.html
Address of Pope Francis to Participants in the Plenary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Clementine Hall, 2 October 2014, https://www.vatican.va/ content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/october/documents/papa-francesco_ 20141002_pont-consiglio-giustizia-e-pace.html
Address of Pope Francis to the European Parliament, Strasbourg, 25 November 2014, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/november/ documents/papa-francesco_20141125_strasburgo-parlamento-europeo.html
Address of Pope Francis to the Participants at the International Conference on “Religious Freedom and the Global Clash of Values,” Consistory Hall Friday, 20 June 2014, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/june/ documents/papa-francesco_20140620_liberta-religiosa.html
Address of Pope Francis to the Participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements, Old Synod Hall, 28 October 2014, https://www.vatican.va/content/ francesco/en/speeches/2014/october/documents/papa-francesco_20141028_ incontro-mondiale-movimenti-popolari.html
Address of the Holy Father at the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements, Expo Feria Exhibition Centre, Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia), 9 July 2015, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/july/ documents/papa-francesco_20150709_bolivia-movimenti-popolari.html
Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Pope Francis to Colombia (6-11 September 2017), Meeting with the Executive Committee if CELAM, Address of His Holiness Pope Francis, Apostolic Nunciature (Bogotá), 7 September 2017, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2017/september/documents/papa-francesco_20170907_viaggioapostolico-colombia-celam.html
Caritas in veritate, 32, 38, 41, 66.
Centesimus annus (1991), 46.
Cfr Octogesima adveniens (1971), 24.
Cfr Sollicitudo rei socialis (1987), 44.
Gaudium et spes (1965), 75.
Intervention of the Holy Father Francis at the Pan-American Judges’ Summit on Social Rights and Franciscan Doctrine, Casina Pio IV—Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Vatican City, 4 June 2019, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/ speeches/2019/june/documents/papa-francesco_20190604_giudici-panamericani. html
Laudato si’, 53, 144, 178, 189, 206.
Meeting with the Participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Address Prepared by Pope Francis, Read by H.E. Archbishop Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Clementine Hall, 28 February 2020, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2020/february/ documents/papa-francesco_20200228_accademia-perlavita.html
Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Celebration of the 52nd World Day of Peace, 1 January 2019, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/ messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20181208_messaggio-52giornatamondiale-pace2019.html
Pius XII, “Christmas Message” (1944); https://www.ewtn.com/ catholicism/library/1944-christmas-message-8963.