Pope Francis has signed a new Encyclical Letter called ‘Fratelli Tutti’ on fraternity and social friendship. Writing on social media, Pope Francis said –
‘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’.
The Holy Father notes toward the beginning of the document –
‘Issues of human fraternity and social friendship have always been a concern of mine. In recent years, I have spoken of them repeatedly and in different settings. In this Encyclical, I have sought to bring together many of those statements and to situate them in a broader context of reflection.’
Amongst many other things, he points out that there are shadows cocvering the world and this realisation leaves us with two options – to come closer to others, regardless of who they might be; or to pass them by, seeing them as being in some way ‘other’ than us, as being without use or worth or dignity. In other words, we can think in terms of ‘us’ or of ‘them’. But to think of ‘them’ is not how God thinks – we are a single human family. To achieve a world of oneness, of ‘us’, we need to open our hearts.
And to do this, we need to engage (previously, the Holy Father used the word ‘meddle’) in politics – but this needs to be the kind of politics we are not seeing at the mopment; politics that is both about and for people, which relates to people with charity whilst respecting their human dignity, no matter who or what they are. And all of this can only happen by means of dialogue.
He goes on to note that this dialogue, to be successful, needs to be both generous and respectful; it needs to acknowledge that old wounds might be present, and to see to heal them – through forgiveness given and received. Only in this way, the Pope concludes, can we hope to be ‘fratelli tutti’ – “brothers and sisters all”.