Journal of Catholic Social Thought

Volume 19, Issue 1, Winter 2022

Amy Daughton
Pages 71-88

Paul Ricoeur and Fratelli tutti: Neighbor, People, Institution

Unusually, Fratelli tutti and Laudato si’ both cite the work of French thinker Paul Ricoeur. It is unusual because reference to individual scholars can be rare in Catholic social teaching, and because Ricoeur was a philosopher, and not a Catholic. Yet Ricoeur’s work, which spanned nearly seventy years and incorporated both philosophy and engagement with religious resources, focused on meaningful communication in text and action for the work of living together. For an encyclical committed to rethinking and rejuvenating attitudes to each other in public life, across disagreement, Ricoeur’s work provides an ideal conversation partner. His approach involves attending carefully to the ethical entanglement of self and other, mediated by the institution. This attention supports the driving concern and reasoning of Fratelli tutti—to recenter the agency of neighbor, people, and institution for the fragile political work of deliberation, cooperation, and action.