Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship

When we consider what humans have done to our environment, a Franciscan heart should cry! Thinking of the beauty of Francis’ Canticle of Creation and then seeing in the media, rivers of plastic, pristine beaches covered with oil, and dying wildlife—all this leaves a hole in my heart. It seems to me that social friendship and care for our common home would be much improved if we had better ecumenical and interfaith relations. Why do I suppose that this would be true? 

Simply because all of the world’s religions have transcendent values that are not self orientated but directed to the other and to the divine. Read more.

The teacher in me encourages me to conclude with a suggestion to help our readers internalize the messages in “Fratelli Tutti.” Too often we forget what we read on our own, but to process the material aloud with others, with our fratelli, expands our insights, builds bonds of friendship and dialogue, and engages more of our senses to help us internalize what we read.

“Fratelli Tutti” lends itself nicely to a small group coming together regularly for discussion and sharing. And there should be no hurry to finish the book! Meeting over Zoom or conference calling during this time of pandemic can have positive consequences in many directions, building community and interaction in times of isolation. Read more.

Political love put into action works to change the social conditions that cause suffering of others, is open to everyone, and insists that different voices be heard. This kind of love is found in all realms: personal relationships, social, economic and the political. To integrate this love into all levels, each of us needs to start somewhere.

What bonds across divides are we willing to create now? Read more.

Chapter Two of “Fratelli Tutti” reflects on the Good Samaritan parable. For years many of us have heard it as an exhortation to individual compassion. After this series was published, I began to see this parable as also reflecting “care for our common home,” the second part of the encyclical’s subtitle. Individual compassion is wonderful, but a compassionate society reflects even better our being made in God’s image and likeness.

What other insights will “Fratelli Tutti” bring us in the years to come? Read more.

“Dark Clouds Over a Closed World.” This ominous title for the first chapter warns us that we must take careful stock of the enormity of the crises we face. No shallow optimism, no despairing withdrawal can help. We must take time to understand the sources, the deeper rationale, the objective evidence for this global disease.

Then, Pope Francis counsels: “Together we can seek the truth in dialogue…. To do so calls for perseverance; it entails moments of silence and suffering, yet it can patiently embrace the broader experience of individuals and peoples” (50). Read more.

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