Let Us Dream

I’m putting my slow walk through the Gospel of John on pause for a few weeks; I’ve gotten up to the Passion narrative, and I’d rather read that closer to Holy Week. I’ve also found that I tend to find less in those stories that has gone unnoticed; because it is the center of the Christian story and focus of the liturgical year, the literary bones of the Gospels’ Passion narratives have been well-picked over, it seems.

I write this on March 13, 2023, the tenth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. I have referred to myself as a sort of “sleeper cell Vaticanista”; my master’s thesis in the mid-1990s was on papal social teaching, but I had spent about twenty years ignoring that subject until Francis’ election. When Jorge Bergoglio was chosen from among the Church’s cardinals to become pope, it somehow nudged loose all the stuff I studied in grad school, and over the last decade I’ve found myself reengaging with the official Roman Catholic Church intellectually and dusting off a lot of old knowledge along the way. It’s been a quick decade on that front for me.

I picked up Francis’ social encyclical from 2020, Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship, which I wrote a whole, whole lot about at the time (including, apparently, a Ted Lasso post; season 3 finally drops Wednesday). I’m not sure why I’m turning back to it now, except that it seems like, if anything, our human fraternity and sorority is retreating rather than advancing post-2020.

The last sentence of his introduction to the encyclical begins “Let us dream,” which is the title of a companion book he subsequently authored for a more general audience than those who read papal encyclicals. While I knew the title tied back to the encyclical, the whole quote grabbed me tonight:

“Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.”

We have a ways to go. 

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