Fratelli tutti

The encyclical of Pope Francis on fraternity and social friendship

"The Holy Father shines light on the path forward for humanity to help heal the bitter divisions that we see around the world." - Bishop John Doerfler

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Read the encyclical here: Fratelli tutti

Learn about it
Visit the Vatican's website focusing on the encyclical: www.fratellitutti.va
Read the Vatican's infographics that concisely get to the heart of the pope's encyclical: Infographics

Pope Francis 'Fratelli tutti' quotes
  • “Globalized society makes us neighbors, but it does not make us brothers and sisters.”
  • “The road we must travel is that of closeness; it is the culture of encounter.”
  • “Jesus asks us not to decide who is close enough to be our neighbor, but rather that we ourselves become neighbors to all.”
  • “The true worth of the different countries of our world is measured by their ability to think as part of the larger human family. God always gives freely.”
  • “Authentic social dialogue involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view and to admit that it may include legitimate convictions and concerns.”
  • “I ask God “to prepare our hearts to encounter our brothers and sisters, so that we may overcome our differences rooted in political thinking, language, culture and religion.”
Bishop John Doerfler's reflections
Read Bishop Doerfler's columns to be published December 2020 through April 2021 in The U.P. Catholic:
Links: December - Part 1, January - Part 2, February - Part 3, March - Part 4, April - Part 5

Homily reflecting on 'Fratelli tutti' and dreaming of something better

Bishop John Doerfler's columns on 'Fratelli tutti'

Bishop John Doerfler Part 1

Introduction

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
On October 4, 2020, Pope Francis issued his third encyclical letter, Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship.  The Holy Father shines light on the path forward for humanity to help heal the bitter divisions that we see around the world.  To help us walk this path together, I will introduce you to some central themes of the Fratelli Tutti in this and in following messages.
 
The Holy Father addresses his encyclical to everyone who will accept this reflection and invitation to dialogue to foster a vision of fraternity and social friendship.  He invites all of us to a deeper love and care for each other.
 
We live in a time when many people’s hearts are darkened with despair and discouragement.  Polarization is so deep it is difficult to dialogue and work out our differences.  We are witnessing a decay of morality throughout the world.  We see people who have been deeply wounded and discarded.  Pope Francis says:
 
Some parts of our human family, it appears, can be readily sacrificed for the sake of others considered worthy of a carefree existence. Ultimately, “persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected, especially when they are poor and disabled, ‘not yet useful’ – like the unborn, or ‘no longer needed’ – like the elderly. We have grown indifferent to all kinds of wastefulness, starting with the waste of food, which is deplorable in the extreme”. A decline in the birthrate, which leads to the aging of the population, together with the relegation of the elderly to a sad and lonely existence, is a subtle way of stating that it is all about us, that our individual concerns are the only thing that matters. In this way, “what is thrown away are not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves”. (FT, 18)
 
In a world of growing fragmentation among people, we are invited to gaze into the eyes of our neighbors with a sense of awe and reverence for the dignity of every human person, of each brother and sister. We are invited to examine our conscience in the light of the parable of the Good Samaritan and ask ourselves how we respond to the sufferings and wounds of our neighbors. Do we pass by? Does our aid consist merely in lip service? Do we make a gift of ourselves in friendship and bathe the others’ wounds?
 
We are invited to a new and deeper collaboration with one another to build the bonds of fraternity that includes every human life from the unborn to the elderly, the refugee and migrant, the poor, abandoned, and wounded, men and women from every race and every land. All people are our brothers and sisters.


Bishop John Doerfler Part 2

The Trinity as the Foundation of Fraternity and Social Friendship
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
In the last message we reflected on the overall theme of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship.  In this message, we will reflect on the Trinity as the foundation of the fraternal love to which we are called.
 
Pope Francis states:
 
For Christians, the words of Jesus have an even deeper meaning. They compel us to recognize Christ himself in each of our abandoned or excluded brothers and sisters. Faith has untold power to inspire and sustain our respect for others, for believers come to know that God loves every man and woman with infinite love and “thereby confers infinite dignity” upon all humanity. We likewise believe that Christ shed his blood for each of us and that no one is beyond the scope of his universal love. If we go to the ultimate source of that love which is the very life of the triune God, we encounter in the community of the three divine Persons the origin and perfect model of all life in society. (FT, 85)
 
We are all made in the image and likeness of God who is love, and we are called to imitate the life of God through our love of God and neighbor.  “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” (1Jn 4:16)
 
God has revealed himself as love, which implies the Trinity.  If God is love, there must be relationship within God.  For there to be love, there must be the one who loves (God the Father), the one who is loved and loves in return (God the Son), and the mutual love exchanged between them (God the Holy Spirit).  The very life of God is giving, receiving and the mutual exchange of love.  Made in God’s image and likeness, we are fulfilled when we give, receive and exchange love with one another.  This is to be the model of fraternity and social friendship.
 
Would it not be better if throughout the world we all walked down the path of love?  Now is the time for us to dream of the good that can be in our world.  Instead of bitter polarization, isolation and loneliness and grave affronts to the dignity of the human person, let us dream of a world in which all of us are striving to look beyond our own interests and look to the good of each other.

Bishop John Doerfler Part 3

The Common Good
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
In the last message we reflected on the Trinity as the foundation of fraternity and social friendship in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti.  In this message, we will reflect on one of the steps to build that fraternity in the image of the Trinity, namely, love of the common good.
 
Both socialism and individualism undermine the common good.  Socialism annihilates the individual person, and individualism annihilates the community.  The common good fosters both the good of the individual person and the good of the community.  Sadly, American culture is marred by a radical individualism and growing trends toward socialism.  Neither is the answer.  There is a better way than the wars over competing self-interests or trampling on individual rights and freedom: love of the common good.
 
Pope Francis states:
 
“‘Social charity makes us love the common good’, it makes us effectively seek the good of all people, considered not only as individuals or private persons, but also in the social dimension that unites them”. Each of us is fully a person when we are part of a people; at the same time, there are no peoples without respect for the individuality of each person. “People” and “person” are correlative terms. Nonetheless, there are attempts nowadays to reduce persons to isolated individuals easily manipulated by powers pursuing spurious interests.” (FT, 182)
 
Marriage and family are schools to help us learn to love the common good and understand what the common good is all about.  Moreover, the family is the fundamental community in society.  We have all had an experience of family, which may or may not have been good.  Yet the family, imperfect as our own experience might have been or is, teaches us something important, that the good of the community and the good of the individual are inseparable.  What is good for my marriage is good for me, because if my marriage is healthy, then I am in an environment where I can grow and thrive.  Similarly, what is good for my family is good for me, because if my family is healthy, then I am in an environment where I can grow and thrive.  Marriage and family are healthy when the good of the whole family and the good of the individual members is fostered and cherished.
 
Similarly, we also see that in broader society the good of the community and the good of the individual is inseparable.  If my local community, state, nation, and world is healthy and a good place to live, then I am in an environment where I can grow and thrive.
 
Now is the time for us to rise above competing self-interests and trampling on individual persons.  Let us all grow in love of the common good.


Bishop John Doerfler Part 4

Truth at the Service of Dialogue
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
In the last message we reflected on love of the common good as one of the steps to build fraternity and social friendship in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti.  In this message, we will reflect on another step to build that fraternity, namely love of the truth at the service of dialogue.
 
To heal divisions and the bitter polarization that fracture humanity, we have to learn how to dialogue with each other.  Pope Francis describes dialogue in this way:
 
Approaching, speaking, listening, looking at, coming to know and understand one another, and to find common ground: all these things are summed up in the one word “dialogue”. If we want to encounter and help one another, we have to dialogue. (FT, 198)
 
Then the Holy Father emphasizes that truth is the basis to form consensus through dialogue and the great enemy in the mutual pursuit of truth in our time is relativism, or the assertion that there is no objective truth.  Pope Francis states:
 
The solution is not relativism. Under the guise of tolerance, relativism ultimately leaves the interpretation of moral values to those in power, to be defined as they see fit. “In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs… we should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient… When the culture itself is corrupt, and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided”. (FT, 206)
 
Without the pursuit and acknowledgement of the truth, dialogue degenerates into a shouting match and the one who has the most power, the one who shouts the loudest and the longest wins.  Only the objective truth about the dignity of the human person can ground respect for a person and his or her rights.  Otherwise, personal rights, such as who enjoys the right to life, are merely determined by the ones in power.  Human dignity is not subject to the color of one’s skin or immigration status. Human dignity is not determined by whether someone is judged to be useful. Without the truth about the human person as its foundation, law is established by the ones in power or the arbitrary consensus of the majority.
 
There is a better way.  Authentic dialogue is fostered when all the dialogue partners acknowledge that there is an objective truth about the human person that calls out to my heart and elicits a response of respect and reverence for everyone.


Bishop John Doerfler Part 5

Dispositions that Foster Dialogue
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
In the last message we reflected on love of the truth at the service of dialogue as one of the steps to build fraternity and social friendship in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti.  In this message, we will reflect on another step to build that fraternity, namely dispositions that foster dialogue.
 
Pope Francis states:
 
Authentic social dialogue involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view and to admit that it may include legitimate convictions and concerns. Based on their identity and experience, others have a contribution to make, and it is desirable that they should articulate their positions for the sake of a more fruitful public debate. When individuals or groups are consistent in their thinking, defend their values and convictions, and develop their arguments, this surely benefits society. Yet, this can only occur to the extent that there is genuine dialogue and openness to others. Indeed, “in a true spirit of dialogue, we grow in our ability to grasp the significance of what others say and do, even if we cannot accept it as our own conviction. In this way, it becomes possible to be frank and open about our beliefs, while continuing to discuss, to seek points of contact, and above all, to work and struggle together. (FT, 203)
 
In today’s world, there are many obstacles to authentic dialogue, such as selfish indifference, violent protests, monologues in which the parties feverishly assert their opinions without listening and stubbornly cling to their own ideas and interests, personal attacks, striving to discredit, insult or humiliate the other, and seeking one’s own good without keeping the good of the other in view.
 
In contrast, dialogue is fostered by a heart open to the other and a genuine interest in listening to what the other has to say.  When we are engaged in dialogue, let us strive to be able to put the other person’s perspective into to words such that the other person says, “Yes, that is what I mean.”  If we cannot do that, then we just end up talking past each other.  Once we understand the other person, we have a bridge to build further dialogue.
 
The dialogue is also fostered by recovering a culture of kindness.
 
Pope Francis states:
 
Precisely because it entails esteem and respect for others, once kindness becomes a culture within society it transforms lifestyles, relationships and the ways ideas are discussed and compared. Kindness facilitates the quest for consensus; it opens new paths where hostility and conflict would burn all bridges.
 
The kind person is gentle, pleasant, supportive, and not rude, cruel or abrasive.  The kind person strives to bear others burdens, to comfort, console and encourage.
 
In these last months we have gazed upon several gems from Fratelli Tutti.  I encourage you to read the whole document to unearth the rest of the treasures found therein, take them to heart and put them into practice so that we may set our feet decidedly on the path of fraternity and social friendship.  May God heal the fractures in humanity.

END
 
 
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