In his new encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” Pope Francis reminds the faithful that “God’s plan for humanity has implications for every aspect of our lives,” said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
These aspects range “from how we treat one another in our personal relationships, to how we organize and operate our societies and economies,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles in a statement Oct. 4, the day the encyclical was released by the Vatican.
He called the pope’s teaching “profound and beautiful,” and said that “like ‘Laudato Si’’ before it, ‘Fratelli Tutti’ is an important contribution to the Church’s rich tradition of social doctrine.”
“In analyzing conditions in the world today, the Holy Father provides us with a powerful and urgent vision for the moral renewal of politics and political and economic institutions from the local level to the global level, calling us to build a common future that truly serves the good of the human person,” Archbishop Gomez said.
“For the Church, the pope is challenging us to overcome the individualism in our culture and to serve our neighbors in love,” he said, “seeing Jesus Christ in every person, and seeking a society of justice and mercy, compassion and mutual concern.”
The archbishop prayed Catholics and all people of goodwill “will reflect on our Holy Father’s words here and enter into a new commitment to seek the unity of the human family.”
Pope Francis signed his new social encyclical at the end of Mass Oct. 3 in Assisi. The Vatican released the text the following day.
Calling all people of goodwill to care for one another as brothers and sisters, Pope Francis urged people not to despair of making the world a better place, but to start creating the world they want through personal action and political lobbying.
“A worldwide tragedy like the Covid-19 pandemic momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all,” the pope said. “Once more we realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together.”
At the same time, he said, responses to the pandemic, and especially to its economic devastation, shined a light on the inequalities existing within nations and among nations.
“For all our hyperconnectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all,” he said. “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.”
“Fratelli Tutti,” which literally means “all brothers and sisters” or “all brothers,” are the words with which St. Francis “addressed his brothers and sisters and proposed to them a way of life marked by the flavor of the Gospel,” the pope wrote.
That flavor, explained throughout the document, involves welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, listening to and giving a hand up to the poor, defending the rights of all and ensuring that each person, at every stage of life, is valued and invited to contribute to the community, he said. It also means supporting public policies that do so on a larger scale.
At the heart of the new encyclical’s appeal to Catholics is a meditation on Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan and particularly on how Jesus takes a legal scholar’s question, “Who is my neighbor,” and turns it into a lesson on being called not to identify one’s neighbors but to become a neighbor to all, especially those most in need of aid.
“The parable eloquently presents the basic decision we need to make in order to rebuild our wounded world. In the face of so much pain and suffering, our only course is to imitate the good Samaritan,” he said. “Any other decision would make us either one of the robbers or one of those who walked by without showing compassion for the sufferings of the man on the roadside.”
“The parable,” he continued, “shows us how a community can be rebuilt by men and women who identify with the vulnerability of others, who reject the creation of a society of exclusion, and act instead as neighbors, lifting up and rehabilitating the fallen for the sake of the common good.”
The text of the pope’s encyclical in English can be found online at: http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20201003_enciclica-fratelli-tutti.html
The text in Spanish is online at: http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/es/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20201003_enciclica-fratelli-tutti.html