Paulo Freire and Pope Francis on Dialogue: an Anticolonial Interpretation

Darren Dias


This article aims to further the concept of dialogue beyond language exchange that includes a strategic element in anticolonialism. It examines the concept of dialogue found in the thought of two of modern-day Latin America’s most influential thinkers: Paulo Freire and Pope Francis. It argues that in different manners, both authors’ concept of dialogue can be considered anticolonial. The article compares and contrasts Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed with Francis’ recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti. Both texts culminate in a deep and detailed analysis of dialogue. Bringing these two important thinkers into conversation reveals central characteristics of dialogue from a colonized perspective and the importance that dialogue has in anticolonial discourses and practises. The article gives a detailed presentation of each author’s understanding of dialogue before highlighting common and complementary features. It then explores some resonances that Freire and Francis’ approach to dialogue has with anticolonial concerns. Dialogue as an anticolonial practise is for both Freire and Francis rooted in a philosophical and theological anthropology of what is means to be human and what de-humanizing practices look like. The article concludes by suggesting themes such as pluriversality, polycentrism, border-crossing, and critical thinking that are found in Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Fratelli Tutti mark these works as achievements in anti/decolonial thought. 


Paulo Freire; Pope Francis; dialogue; liberation theology; anticolonial

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