Fratelli Tutti, On Fraternity and Social Friendship, was released by Pope Francis on October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Fr. Robert Gahl, Vice Chair of the Program of Church Management, offers an initial reflection on the meaning and lessons of the encyclical. You can follow Fr. Bob on Twitter here.
In his new encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis challenges the world to live with true fraternity, a friendship rooted in God’s love for all. While many leap to comment on their favorite political or theological theme, perhaps no one has yet noted that Fratelli Tutti is the first encyclical to quote a popular music composer, the Brazilian Vinícius de Moraes, also known as O Poetinha, who wrote the lyrics to “The Girl from Ipanema” establishing bossa nova style. The Pope’s quotation encapsulates the encyclical: “Life, for all its confrontations, is the art of encounter”.(FT215)
Incisively for many current debates, Fratelli Tutti promotes full citizenship by rejecting all forms of racism including the identity politics of victimhood.
The Holy Father draws from the Abu Dhabi Document on Human Fraternity to denounce “the discriminatory use of the term minorities which engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority. Its misuse paves the way for hostility and discord; it undoes any successes and takes away the religious and civil rights of some citizens who are thus discriminated against.” (FT 131)
Pope Francis promotes solidarity and emphasizes the limitations of the principle of private property, since it depends on the more fundamental universal destination of all goods. He also promotes subsidiarity by defending local action which “has to be eagerly embraced, for it possesses something that the global does not: it is capable of being a leaven, of bringing enrichment, of sparking mechanisms of subsidiarity.” (FT 142)
Globalism in Fratelli Tutti
The Holy Father also rejects globalism. While the common good must be sought, including at the global level, our global aim should never be at the expense of local identities. Global solidarity is not homogenization. Such globalism did not end well with the Tower of Babel.
“Universal does not necessarily mean bland, uniform and standardized, based on a single prevailing cultural model, for this will ultimately lead to the loss of a rich palette of shades and colors, and result in utter monotony.” (FT 144)
Pope Francis denounces economic injustice while defending business activity that promotes development by “finding the best economic and technological means of multiplying goods and increasing wealth. Business abilities, which are a gift from God, should always be clearly directed to the development of others and to eliminating poverty, especially through the creation of diversified work opportunities.”(FT 123)
Much more will be said about Fratelli Tutti in coming days, and indeed, years. Read the encyclical for yourself here.