Pope Francis has given the Church his third encyclical leer, Fratelli tutti, a comprehensive examination of a broad range of issues within countries, and globally across nations and peoples at this moment in history. Like his second encyclical, Laudato si’, this letter is inspired by the example and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi. The Holy Father went to Assisi to sign and promulgate this most recent teaching document of his Pontiﬁcate.
The letter is far too expansive to allow for a summary. Much analysis will be needed to grasp the full scope of the Pope’s call for a “Global ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the whole human family.”
Along with the spirituality of St. Francis, the Holy Father pays tribute to the document he signed recently with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, entitled, “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”
Pope Francis develops in his new encyclical a vision of fraternity and relationships at multiple levels of life: from personal encounters, to life within nations, to global relations in a world seeking to overcome and recover from the global pandemic of COVID-19. Although the encyclical is addressed primarily to the Church, the Holy Father oﬀers it explicitly for consideration to all people of good will.
Pope Francis speciﬁes issues that render national and global fraternity diﬃcult to achieve in our time. Among those he cites are aggressive nationalism, the virus of racism and a failure to respond to the plight of immigrants and refugees.
To respond to these and other obstacles to fraternity and peace, Pope Francis calls for “A heart open to the world” and a “better kind of politics.” Reiterating his opposition to both war and the death penalty, he concludes the letter with a vision of “Religions at the Service of Fraternity in Our World.”
The new teaching document speciﬁes several themes that are pertinent to our common life in the United States and our role in the world today. I hope it will receive the study, attention and dialogue it deserves within the Church and beyond.
An excerpt from the introduction of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti:
- 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. 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. Although I have written it from the Christian convictions that inspire and sustain me, I have sought to make this reﬂection an invitation to dialogue among all people of good will.
- As I was writing this 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. For all our hyper-connectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more diﬃcult to resolve problems that aﬀect us all. Anyone who thinks that the only lesson to be learned was the need to improve what we were already doing, or to reﬁne existing systems and regulations, is denying reality.
- It is my desire that, in this our time, by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. Fraternity between all men and women. “Here we have a splendid secret that shows us how to dream and to turn our life into a wonderful adventure. No one can face life in isolation… We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead. How important it is to dream together… By ourselves, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together”. Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same ﬂesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.
CHAPTER ONE –
DARK CLOUDS OVER A CLOSED WORLD
- Without claiming to carry out an exhaustive analysis or to study every aspect of our present-day experience, I intend simply to consider certain trends in our world that hinder the development of universal fraternity.
The entirety of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, can be found here.
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time October 17/18, 2020
Jesus oﬀers us a profound teaching on stewardship in this weekend’s reading: What belongs to Caesar? What belongs to God?
Christian stewards recognize that everything they have belongs to God. God created them, and God has claims on every part of their existence. They also realize that the sovereign is an institution whose nature and purpose is to promote the common good and protect the welfare of its citizenry.
As long as it accomplishes this mission while treating every single person with deep respect, justice and compassion, it merits the steward’s support and cooperation. Christian stewards know what belongs to the Lord, and they are better citizens when they live their lives according to his Gospel.