‘Fratelli tutti’: Pope calls for unity

BusinessMirror - - Faith Sunday -

VAT­I­CAN—POPE Fran­cis pre­sented his vi­sion for over­com­ing the world’s grow­ing di­vi­sions, laid bare by the coro­n­avirus cri­sis, in his new en­cycli­cal Fratelli tutti ( ).

In the let­ter, re­leased on Oc­to­ber 4, the pope urged peo­ple of good will to pro­mote fra­ter­nity through di­a­logue, re­new­ing so­ci­ety by putting love for oth­ers ahead of per­sonal in­ter­ests.

Through­out the en­cycli­cal, the pope em­pha­sized the pri­macy of love, in both so­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­texts.

The words Fratelli tutti, the text’s open­ing phrase, are taken from the writ­ings of St. Fran­cis of As­sisi, to whom the pope paid trib­ute at the be­gin­ning of the en­cycli­cal, de­scrib­ing him as the “saint of fra­ter­nal love.”

The pope said he was struck that, when St. Fran­cis met with the Egyp­tian Sul­tan Al-kamil in 1219, he “urged that all forms of hos­til­ity or con­flict be avoided and that a hum­ble and fra­ter­nal ‘sub­jec­tion’ be shown to those who did not share his faith.”

“Fran­cis did not wage a war of words aimed at im­pos­ing doc­trines; he sim­ply spread the love of God … In this way, he be­came a father to all and in­spired the vi­sion of a fra­ter­nal so­ci­ety,” the pope wrote.

Pope Fran­cis ex­plained that his new en­cycli­cal brought to­gether many of his pre­vi­ous re­flec­tions on hu­man fra­ter­nity and so­cial friend­ship, and also ex­panded on themes con­tained in the “Doc­u­ment on Hu­man Fra­ter­nity for World Peace and Liv­ing To­gether,” which he signed with Sheikh Ahmed el-tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-azhar, in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

“The fol­low­ing pages do not claim to of­fer a com­plete teach­ing on fra­ter­nal love, but rather to con­sider its uni­ver­sal scope, its open­ness to ev­ery man and woman,” he wrote. “I of­fer this so­cial en­cycli­cal as a mod­est con­tri­bu­tion to con­tin­ued re­flec­tion, in the hope that in the face of present- day at­tempts to elim­i­nate or ig­nore oth­ers, we may prove ca­pa­ble of responding with a new vi­sion of fra­ter­nity and so­cial friend­ship that will not re­main at the level of words.”

The pope signed the en­cycli­cal in As­sisi on Oc­to­ber 3. He is thought to be the first pope to sign an en­cycli­cal out­side of Rome for more than 200 years, since Pius VII is­sued the text Il tri­onfo in the Ital­ian city of Ce­sena in 1814.

Pope Fran­cis noted that, while he was writ­ing the let­ter, “the Covid-19 pan­demic un­ex­pect­edly erupted, ex­pos­ing our false se­cu­ri­ties.”

“Aside from the dif­fer­ent ways that var­i­ous coun­tries re­sponded to the cri­sis, their in­abil­ity to work to­gether be­came quite ev­i­dent,” he said. “For all our hy­per­con­nec­tiv­ity, we wit­nessed a frag­men­ta­tion that made it more dif­fi­cult to re­solve prob­lems that af­fect us all.”

Chal­lenges amid Covid-19

The pope di­vided his third en­cycli­cal, af­ter the 2013 Lu­men fidei and 2015 Laudato si’, into eight chap­ters.

In the open­ing chap­ter, he laid out the chal­lenges fac­ing hu­man­ity amid the coro­n­avirus cri­sis, which has killed more than a mil­lion peo­ple world­wide.

He cited wars, the “throw­away cul­ture” that in­cludes abor­tion and eu­thana­sia, ne­glect of the el­derly, dis­crim­i­na­tion against women, and slav­ery, among other threats.

He also of­fered a cri­tique of con­tem­po­rary po­lit­i­cal de­bate, as well as on­line com­mu­ni­ca­tion, which he said was of­ten marred by “ver­bal vi­o­lence.”

“In to­day’s world, the sense of be­long­ing to a sin­gle hu­man fam­ily is fad­ing, and the dream of work­ing to­gether for justice and peace seems an out­dated utopia,” he wrote. “What reigns in­stead is a cool, com­fort­able and glob­al­ized in­dif­fer­ence, born of deep dis­il­lu­sion­ment con­cealed be­hind a de­cep­tive il­lu­sion: think­ing that we are all-pow­er­ful, while fail­ing to re­al­ize that we are all in the same boat.”

Para­ble of the Good Sa­mar­i­tan

In the sec­ond chap­ter, Pope Fran­cis re­flected on the Para­ble of the Good Sa­mar­i­tan, pre­sent­ing the Sa­mar­i­tan who helped a trav­eler who had been left for dead as a model of hu­man fra­ter­nity, in con­trast to oth­ers who sim­ply passed by.

“We need to ac­knowl­edge that we are con­stantly tempted to ig­nore oth­ers, es­pe­cially the weak,” he said. “Let us ad­mit that, for all the progress we have made, we are still ‘ il­lit­er­ate’ when it comes to ac­com­pa­ny­ing, car­ing for and sup­port­ing the most frail and vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of our de­vel­oped so­ci­eties.”

He noted that de­vout men failed to help the trav­eler, say­ing: “Para­dox­i­cally, those who claim to be un­be­liev­ers can some­times put God’s will into prac­tice bet­ter than be­liev­ers.”

He urged read­ers to fol­low the teach­ing of Je­sus by not set­ting lim­its on who they re­gard as their neigh­bors. He added that he some­times won­dered why “it took so long for the Church un­equiv­o­cally to con­demn slav­ery and var­i­ous forms of vi­o­lence.”

Love in the face of poverty, in­equal­ity

In chap­ter three, the pope stressed the im­por­tance of a fun­da­men­tal at­ti­tude of love in the face of poverty and in­equal­ity.

He said that “the spiritual stature of a per­son’s life is mea­sured by love,” but “some be­liev­ers think that it con­sists in the im­po­si­tion of their own ide­olo­gies upon ev­ery­one else, or in a vi­o­lent de­fense of the truth, or in im­pres­sive demon­stra­tions of strength.”

He con­tin­ued: “All of us, as be­liev­ers, need to rec­og­nize that love takes first place: love must never be put at risk, and the great­est dan­ger lies in fail­ing to love.”

The pope un­der­lined that racism re­mained a threat, com­par­ing it to a virus that “quickly mu­tates and, in­stead of dis­ap­pear­ing, goes into hid­ing, and lurks in wait­ing.”

He also said that “hid­den ex­iles,” such as peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, should be en­cour­aged to par­tic­i­pate fully in so­ci­ety.

He ar­gued that in­di­vid­u­al­ism “does not make us more free, more equal, more fra­ter­nal.” What is needed, he said, is a “uni­ver­sal love” that pro­motes the dig­nity of ev­ery hu­man be­ing.

This love should be ap­plied also to mi­grants, the pope wrote.


In the fourth chap­ter, de­voted to the theme of mi­gra­tion, the pope ap­pealed to coun­tries to “wel­come, pro­tect, pro­mote and in­te­grate” new­com­ers.

He urged gov­ern­ments to take a se­ries of “in­dis­pens­able steps” to help refugees. These in­cluded “in­creas­ing and sim­pli­fy­ing the grant­ing of visas,” as well as “free­dom of move­ment and the pos­si­bil­ity of em­ploy­ment,” and “sup­port­ing the re­unit­ing of fam­i­lies.”

But even these steps would prove in­suf­fi­cient, he said, if the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity failed to de­velop “a form of global gov­er­nance with re­gard to move­ments of mi­gra­tion.”

Adopt poli­cies on com­mon good

In the fifth chap­ter, the pope called for states to adopt poli­cies that pro­moted the com­mon good, cri­tiquing both an “un­healthy” pop­ulism and an ex­ces­sively in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic lib­er­al­ism.

He said that pop­ulism could con­ceal a lack of con­cern for the vul­ner­a­ble, while lib­er­al­ism could be used to serve the eco­nomic in­ter­ests of the pow­er­ful.

He also crit­i­cized the con­vic­tion that the mar­ket can re­solve ev­ery prob­lem, call­ing it the “dogma of ne­olib­eral faith.”

The pope lamented that the world had failed to seize the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented by the fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2007-2008 to de­velop new eth­i­cal prin­ci­ples gov­ern­ing the econ­omy.

What fol­lowed in­stead was “greater in­di­vid­u­al­ism, less in­te­gra­tion and in­creased free­dom for the truly pow­er­ful, who al­ways find a way to es­cape un­scathed.”

He urged re­form both of the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial sys­tem and mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions, such the United Nations, say­ing it was vi­tal for coun­tries “to estab­lish shared goals and to en­sure the world­wide ob­ser­vance of cer­tain es­sen­tial norms.”

Set­ting out his pro­posal for re­newal, Pope Fran­cis said that lead­ers should fo­cus on the long-term com­mon good, im­bu­ing their work with what he called “po­lit­i­cal love.”

He also high­lighted the “ur­gent need to com­bat all that threat­ens or violates fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights,” es­pe­cially hunger and hu­man traf­fick­ing, which he called a “source of shame for hu­man­ity.”

En­gage in au­then­tic di­a­logue

In the sixth chap­ter, the pope en­cour­aged peo­ple to en­gage in au­then­tic di­a­logue, which he said was not the same as ar­gu­ments on so­cial me­dia, which were of­ten “par­al­lel mono­logues.”

He sug­gested that, in a plu­ral­is­tic so­ci­ety, di­a­logue is the means by which so­ci­ety iden­ti­fies those truths that must al­ways be af­firmed and re­spected.

He quoted a line from the song “Samba da bênção,” by Brazil­ian artist Viní­cius de Mo­raes: “Life, for all its con­fronta­tions, is the art of en­counter.”

It is also nec­es­sary to form a “covenant” be­tween all mem­bers of so­ci­ety, rich and poor, which obliges ev­ery­one to give up some things for the com­mon good.

Above all, he said, we need to re­dis­cover kind­ness.

Con­di­tions for peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion

In chap­ter seven, he dis­cussed the con­di­tions for peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, de­plor­ing the in­jus­tices of war and call­ing for an end to the use of the death penalty world­wide.

He noted that the Cat­e­chism of the Catholic Church rec­og­nizes the pos­si­bil­ity of le­git­i­mate de­fense by mil­i­tary force.

But he said this was of­ten in­ter­preted too broadly, ar­gu­ing that “it is very dif­fi­cult nowa­days to in­voke the ra­tio­nal cri­te­ria elab­o­rated in ear­lier cen­turies to speak of the pos­si­bil­ity of a ‘ just war.’”

An ac­com­pa­ny­ing foot­note said: “St. Au­gus­tine, who forged a con­cept of ‘ just war’ that we no longer up­hold in our own day, also said that ‘ it is a higher glory still to stay war it­self with a word, than to slay men with the sword, and to pro­cure or main­tain peace by peace, not by war.’”

The pope ap­pealed to gov­ern­ments to give money al­lo­cated to weapons to “a global fund that can fi­nally put an end to hunger and fa­vor devel­op­ment in the most im­pov­er­ished coun­tries.”

He also em­pha­sized that the death penalty to­day is “in­ad­mis­si­ble,” re­call­ing his 2018 change to the Cat­e­chism’s teach­ing on the topic.

Role of re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties

In the eighth and fi­nal chap­ter, he high­lighted the role of re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties in build­ing a more fra­ter­nal world, by re­ject­ing vi­o­lence and en­gag­ing in di­a­logue, as out­lined in the “Doc­u­ment on Hu­man Fra­ter­nity.”

In the en­cycli­cal’s con­clu­sion, Pope Fran­cis said that the text was in­spired not only by St. Fran­cis, but also by nonCatholi­cs, such as Martin Luther King, Des­mond Tutu and Ma­hatma Gandhi, as well as the French Catholic mis­sion­ary Blessed Charles de Fou­cauld, who the pope is ex­pected to can­on­ize.

Fran­cis ended the let­ter with both an ec­u­meni­cal prayer and a “Prayer to the Creator,” which read: “Lord, Father of our hu­man fam­ily, you cre­ated all hu­man be­ings equal in dig­nity: pour forth into our hearts a fra­ter­nal spirit and in­spire in us a dream of re­newed en­counter, di­a­logue, justice and peace.”

“Move us to cre­ate health­ier so­ci­eties and a more dig­ni­fied world, a world with­out hunger, poverty, vi­o­lence and war.”

“May our hearts be open to all the peo­ples and nations of the Earth. May we rec­og­nize the good­ness and beauty that you have sown in each of us, and, thus, forge bonds of unity, com­mon projects, and shared dreams. Amen.”

Pope Fran­cis went to As­sisi in Italy for the fourth time dur­ing his pon­tif­i­cate. There he signed his new En­cycli­cal , be­fore the tomb of St. Fran­cis of As­sisi af­ter cel­e­brat­ing Holy Mass. Vat­i­can Me­dia

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