More thoughts on Fratelli Tutti
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2020 - 12:00am

Fratelli Tutti (Brothers All) is the third and latest encyclical of Pope Francis. In my column last Sunday, I suggested a framework for reading this 43,000-word document which is clearly heavy reading. By using the encyclical format, the pope is signalling that he has something urgent to say about fraternity and friendship and people all over the world should pay attention.

The encyclical is composed of an Introduction and eight chapters. I also discussed the Introduction last Sunday. Again I repeat that people should take time to read each chapter. It takes time to digest each chapter. In an article by Thomas Reese that appeared in the feature series on Fratelli Tutti, he presents a short summary of the different chapters.

Chapter 1 describes the  sad state of the world. It is depressing, yet the pope offers hope. He writes: “Difficulties that seem overwhelming are opportunities for growth, not excuses for a glum resignation that can only lead to acquiescence.”

Chapter 2 is a meditation on the parable of the Good Samaritan. I hope to write more about this chapter in a future column. This chapter would make good material for discussion groups in parishes, schools and other Catholic groups.

Chapters 3 and 4 present the pope’s fundamental vision. He writes: “The  spiritual stature of a person’s life is measured by love.” This love must extend beyond family, tribe and nation to strangers, migrants and all people into a social friendship where the worth of every person is acknowledged.

Chapter 6 presents the pope’s political philosophy. It is on the importance of social and cultural values.

Chapter 7 deals with reconciliation and peace building.

Chapter 8 speaks of the role of religion in building fraternity and will be useful for those who are engaged in interfaith religious dialogs.

In Chapter 1, the pope writes: “Without claiming to carry out an exhaustive analysis or to study every aspect of our present day experience, I intend simply to consider certain trends in our world that hinder the development of universal fraternity.”

The pope is highly critical of globalism and a growing loss of a sense of history. This leads to “limitless consumption and expressions of empty individualism.” Here is his advice to young people. “If someone tells young people to ignore their history, to reject the experiences of their elders, to look down on the past and to look forward to a future that he himself holds out, doesn’t it then become easy to draw them along so that they  can trust only what he tells them? He needs the young to be shallow, uprooted and distrustful so that they can trust only in his promises and act according to his plans. That is how various ideologies operate: they destroy all differences so that they can reign unopposed. To do so, however, they need young people who have no use for history, who spurn the spiritual and human riches inherited from past generations and are ignorant of everything that came before them.”

Pope Francis, in this chapter, has a dark view of what is happening in the world today. Here are excerpts from Chapter 1 that reflects this view.

“Nowadays what do certain words like democracy, freedom, justice or unity really mean? They have been bent and shaped to serve as tools for domination, as meaningless tags that can be used to justify any action.”

In this chapter, Pope Francis returns to one of his favorite topics – the rise of inequality in the world. He writes: “This way of discarding others can take a variety of forms, such as obsession with reducing labor costs with no concern for the grave consequences, since the unemployment that it directly generates leads to the expansion of poverty... Some economic rules have proved effective for growth but not for integral human development. Wealth has increased but together with inequality with the result that new forms of poverty are emerging.”

Again and again Pope Francis returns to the theme of inequality in terms of human rights, injustice and income inequality. He writes:

“In today’s world many forms of injustice persist fed by reductive anthropological visions and by a profit-based economic model that does not hesitate to exploit, discard and even kill human beings. While one part of humanity lives in opulence, another part sees its own dignity denied, scorned or trampled upon and its fundamental rights discarded or violated. What does this tell us about the equality of rights grounded in innate human dignity?”

Pope Francis devotes the whole Chapter 2 to a discussion on the parable of the good Samaritan. The parable does not indulge in abstract moralizing nor is its message merely social and ethical. The pope writes: “It speaks to us of an essential often forgotten aspect of our common humanity: we were created for a fulfilment that can only be found in love. We cannot be indifferent to suffering; we cannot allow anyone to go through life as an outcast. Instead we should feel indignant, challenged to emerge from our comfortable isolation and to be changed by our contact with human suffering. That is the meaning of dignity...”

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An invitation for online classes for writers of all ages: Adult series on writing family histories, Oct. 17, 2-3:30 p.m.

Young Writers’ Hangout, Oct. 24, 2-3 p.m. Contact  0945.2273216


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