New Horizons


In his latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Francis puts forth an understanding of conflict that helps us to frame The McCarrick Report in the larger ecclesiological themes of Francis’s pontificate. While many looked on and saw irreparable damage and risk to the reputation of the Church and its credibility, Francis saw the conflict as an opportunity for real reform. In the encyclical published only one month after the report, Francis writes that “pain and conflict transform us” (FT 226). This theology of conflict, available most succinctly in Chapter 7 of the document, is starkly contrasted to a fear of conflict. Instead, it posits conflict not only as inevitable, but indeed as constructive for Christian communities. For Francis, conflict is not something that must be shied away from by cover-ups or disinterest in reality, but instead the truth must be prioritized at all costs. In this paper, I will use Jon Sobrino’s concepts of honesty with (or fidelity to) the real, forgiveness of the real, and the hope that is found in the real in order to argue that The McCarrick Report is a step in the healing and reconciliation of the Church. By reading both documents together, we can understand that instead of utter discord and crisis, Pope Francis sees what Sobrino refers to as “a hope that is made possible by reality itself.” Francis inspires in the Church a hope that reform of structures that cause sinful realities is not only necessary, but possible. In a new way, Pope Francis is inviting the whole Church to listen to the clamors of survivors and victims of the systems of domination in which we live.


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