Director of Mission
Fratelli Tutti – The Encyclical of Pope Francis on fraternity and social friendship
The pandemic has provided us with a unique lens through which to view the world at this particular time and highlights to us and brings to our awareness the fragility of life, the effect isolation has on relationships and the human person, the impact that divisive political practices can have on societies both at home and abroad and the need to care for this one and only creation.
In October 2020 Pope Francis released his third encyclical entitled Fratelli Tutti in an attempt at healing the divisions within the world in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pope Francis throughout his papacy has made it very clear, not only to the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, but to everyone, that we must place the needs of the poor and marginalised at the heart of our ministry. Pope Francis says that, “We are all involved in the construction of a better world”, especially now during this crisis. We are called to action and to show fraternity to our fellow humans and care for creation. This is the “sole way towards integral development and peace,” he says. Pope Francis uses the parable of the Good Samaritan as a guide or symbolism to highlight the choices we need to make. We can either pass by or we can help. Francis observes “These ancient stories, full of symbolism, bear witness to a conviction which we today share, that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others” (LS. 70).
In order to fully understand what Francis means by ‘brotherhood/sisterhood’ he says, “God is universal love, and as long as we are part of that love and share in it, we are called to universal fraternity, which is openness to all.” There are some very basic norms that Francis calls us to observe and apply to how we live. One of those is a better kind of politics. We have been witnessing all kinds of destructive politics around the world, that instead of working for the common good and the dignity of each person, they are tearing away at the very fabric of what it means to have dignity. We have seen countries amplify their own interests at the expense of the poor, the vulnerable or to serve their own political and economic power. Whether we like it or not, politics is a key to ensuring societies can flourish, that the environment and creation is protected and those on the margins of society are embraced and supported. Francis points out that some leaders around the world are responding more to the opportunity to gain votes, and therefore short-term advantage, rather than doing what is right and just, which may require a much longer and more arduous road to ensuring people can develop and earn a living by their own efforts.
As usual, Francis’ message seems simple enough; recognise that all we encounter and those we don’t, are all from the same ‘womb’ as the Greek word for brother and sister means. We are in communion together; we must seek dialogue and openness and build social friendship so that we can encounter ‘the other’ wherever they may be or whoever they be.
Mrs Libby Parker
Director of Mission