Pope Francis has given the Church his third encyclical letter, Fratelli tutti, a comprehensive examination of a broad range of issues within countries, and globally across nations and peoples at this moment in history. Like his second encyclical, Laudato si’, this letter is inspired by the example and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi. The Holy Father went to Assisi to sign and promulgate this most recent teaching document of his Pontificate.
The letter is far too expansive to allow for a summary. Much analysis will be needed to grasp the full scope of the Pope’s call for a “Global ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the whole human family.”
Along with the spirituality of St. Francis, the Holy Father pays tribute to the document he signed recently with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, entitled, “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”
Pope Francis develops in his new encyclical a vision of fraternity and relationships at multiple levels of life: from personal encounters, to life within nations, to global relations in a world seeking to overcome and recover from the global pandemic of COVID-19. Although the encyclical is addressed primarily to the Church, the Holy Father offers it explicitly for consideration to all people of good will.
Pope Francis specifies issues that render national and global fraternity difficult to achieve in our time. Among those he cites are aggressive nationalism, the virus of racism and a failure to respond to the plight of immigrants and refugees.
To respond to these and other obstacles to fraternity and peace, Pope Francis calls for “A heart open to the world” and a “better kind of politics.” Reiterating his opposition to both war and the death penalty, he concludes the letter with a vision of “Religions at the Service of Fraternity in Our World.”
The new teaching document specifies several themes that are pertinent to our common life in the United States and our role in the world today. I hope it will receive the study, attention and dialogue it deserves within the Church and beyond.