Pope Francis’s new encyclical Fratelli tutti on Fraternity and Social Friendship is a call for everyone to see the world as being without borders and view everyone as their brothers and sisters, said Archbishop of Wellington Cardinal John Dew.
“Fratelli tutti is a profound document,” said Cardinal Dew, vice-president of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference. “It can change minds and hearts. It can be one avenue to do nothing less than ‘renew the face of the earth.’ Take it and pray.”
Pope Francis signed Fratelli tutti on October 3 after celebrating Mass at the tomb of St Francis of Assisi. It is the third encyclical of his pontificate and focuses on friendship and human solidarity at this time of international pandemic and polarisation. The title has been translated from the Latin as Brothers and Sisters All, a key phrase in the document.
Cardinal Dew says Fratelli tutti is not about making adjustments here and there to our personal and community lives.
“Rather it is very much about a way to re-read and to live the Gospel for our times. The Pope writes about the need for us to survive not only the coronavirus pandemic, but the many other things our contemporary world needs to do to survive. It is that serious. It is that compelling. It is that demanding.”
Fratelli tutti pleads on behalf of the world’s poor, the handicapped, the infirm and the elderly – people who often live on the margins of society but who ought to be at the centre, said Cardinal Dew.
“This is an invitation for everyone to broaden our perspective to view a world without borders and to view every single person on the planet, and yes, the planet itself, as brother and sister.”
Pope Francis wants to offer “a new vision of fraternity and social friendship that will not remain on the level of words”, said Cardinal Dew.
“As we would say today, he wants us to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. It is a primer on the Catholic Christian way of viewing life and living life in dialogue among all people of good will.”
Pope Francis’ new social encyclical offers a vision for the world of dignity for every person around the world and promotes a call to “build a new culture of fraternity and dialogue”, said the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
The document, Fratelli Tutti, “is not just for believers, but for the entire human family,” Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane said in a statement released as the encyclical became public.
Explaining that in his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” the Pope spoke of caring for creation, the new teaching document “speaks of care for each other, the family that dwells together in the common home”, the archbishop said.
The archbishop’s views on the encyclical were echoed around the world as reaction to it focused on how humanity must value the lives of each human being in order to achieve peace and allow for the development of communities that are often left on the margins of society.
Bishop Georg Batzing of Limburg, Germany, president of the German bishops’ conference, described the encyclical as a “wake-up call” and an “urgent appeal for global solidarity and international cooperation,” the German Catholic news agency KNA reported.
Archbishop Coleridge agreed with the Pope, saying that the conflicts that plague humanity “are a road to nowhere”.
“The Holy Father speaks of ideologies that seek to divide rather than unite, policies that value certain people over others and economic systems that prioritise profit over people and the planet,” he said.
The archbishop added that the Pope “offers a grand yet simple vision of human interconnectedness”.
“We’re all connected to each other in ways we scarcely image. Our task now is to work out what this means in practice as we look beyond the pandemic,” he said.
The president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, said that Pope Francis has reminded the faithful that “God’s plan for humanity has implications for every aspect of our lives”.
These aspects range “from how we treat one another in our personal relationships, to how we organise and operate our societies and economies”.
Archbishop Gomez 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 analysing 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 neighbours 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 that 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”.
- Catholic News Service reportage was used in this article.