Fiducia Supplicans Latest Piece of Francis’ New Paradigm

The ‘ecclesial civil war’ provoked by the declaration Fiducia supplicans can be understood in its internal dynamics by going back to the concept of the ‘new paradigm’ applied to Francis’ pontificate. Countless articles and books use the expression. From the very first steps of the pontificate, it was evident it was a new paradigm. Already in the additions to the unfinished text of Lumen Fidei or in the interview with La Civiltà Cattolica, everyone noticed a new paradigm in embryo, which then unfolded extensively in this decade and now, with the Fiducia supplicans, has definitively shown its revolutionary face, dividing the Church. One must avoid attributing the disastrous effect to Cardinal Fernández’s latest statement alone. It has been a decade in the making and is directly linked to chapter 8 of Amoris laetitia, but not only. This is why the notion of a ‘new paradigm’ is worth examining once again.

This expression comes from the philosophy of science and in particular from the Popperian school. Thomas Kuhn interpreted the development of science as a succession of revolutions on the basis of new paradigms to be understood as research programmes. The new paradigm had to be able to explain both what the previous one explained and what it failed to explain. The issue took an interesting turn when Imre Lakatos argued that a new paradigm does not come into being after an anomalous fact is discovered that falsifies the previous one, but first the new paradigm is elaborated and then the anomalous facts with respect to the previous one can be seen and explained, which would otherwise remain in the dark or be forcibly adapted within the old scheme. The new fact can therefore only be seen as new if the new way of seeing things has already come into being first, and not afterwards. First we move on to the new criteria and only then do we deal with the new facts, now made visible by the light of the new paradigm. A fact is not new because it is new, but because the way of seeing it is new.

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