“It is my desire that by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. Fraternity between all men and women.”
An overview from CNS:
Professing faith in God as the creator of all human beings, or even simply recognizing that all people possess an inherent dignity, has concrete consequences for how people should treat one another and make decisions in politics, economics and social life, Pope Francis wrote.
“Human beings have the same inviolable dignity in every age of history and no one can consider himself or herself authorized by particular situations to deny this conviction or to act against it,” the pope wrote in his encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship.”
Pope Francis signed the encyclical Oct. 3 after celebrating Mass at the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi, and the Vatican released the more than 40,000-word text the next day.
The pope had been rumored to be writing an encyclical on nonviolence; and, once the COVID-19 pandemic struck, many expected a document exploring in depth his repeated pleas for the world to recognize the inequalities and injustices laid bare by the pandemic and adopt corrective economic, political and social policies.
“Fratelli Tutti” combines those two elements but does so in the framework set by the document on human fraternity and interreligious dialogue that he and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Egypt, signed in 2019.
In fact, in the new document Pope Francis wrote that he was “encouraged” by his dialogue with the Muslim leader and by their joint statement that “God has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters.”
The encyclical takes its title from St. Francis of Assisi and is inspired by his “fraternal openness,” which, the pope said, calls on people “to acknowledge, appreciate and love each person, regardless of physical proximity, regardless of where he or she was born or lives.”
Vatican News offers this summary:
What are the great ideals but also the tangible ways to advance for those who wish to build a more just and fraternal world in their ordinary relationships, in social life, politics and institutions? This is mainly the question that Fratelli tutti is intended to answer: the Pope describes it as a “Social Encyclical” (6) which borrows the title of the “Admonitions” of Saint Francis of Assisi, who used these words to “address his brothers and sisters and proposed to them a way of life marked by the flavor of the Gospel” (1). The Poverello “did not wage a war of words aimed at imposing doctrines; he simply spread the love of God”, the Pope writes, and “he became a father to all and inspired the vision of a fraternal society” (2-4). The Encyclical aims to promote a universal aspiration toward fraternity and social friendship. Beginning with our common membership in the human family, from the acknowledgement that we are brothers and sisters because we are the children of one Creator, all in the same boat, and hence we need to be aware that in a globalized and interconnected world, only together can we be saved. The Document on Human Fraternity signed by Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in February 2019 is an inspirational influence cited many times.
Fraternity is to be encouraged not only in words, but in deeds. Deeds made tangible in a “better kind of politics”, which is not subordinated to financial interests, but to serving the common good, able to place the dignity of every human being at the centre and assure work to everyone, so that each one can develop his or her own abilities. A politics which, removed from populism, is able to find solutions to what attacks fundamental human rights and which aims to definitively eliminate hunger and trafficking. At the same time, Pope Francis underscores that a more just world is achieved by promoting peace, which is not merely the absence of war; it demands “craftsmanship”, a job that involves everyone. Linked to truth, peace and reconciliation must be “proactive”; they must work toward justice through dialogue, in the name of mutual development. This begets the Pontiff’s condemnation of war, the “negation of all rights” and is no longer conceivable even in a hypothetically “justified” form, because nuclear, chemical and biological weapons already have enormous repercussions on innocent civilians. There is also a strong rejection of the death penalty, defined as “inadmissible”, and a central reflection on forgiveness, connected to the concepts of remembrance and justice: to forgive does not mean to forget, the Pontiff writes, nor to give up defending one’s rights to safeguard one’s dignity, which is a gift from God. In the background of the Encyclical is the Covid-19 pandemic which, Francis reveals, “unexpectedly erupted” as he “was writing this letter”. But the global health emergency has helped demonstrate that “no one can face life in isolation” and that the time has truly come to “dream, then, as a single human family” in which we are “brothers and sisters all” (7-8).
Read the entire encyclical here.