A Few Thoughts – November 1st

Fratelli Tutti, the latest letter from Pope Francis is overwhelming in its invitation for us to become a society of sisters and brothers united by a common humanity that is an expression of the Incarnation of God. My first thought was to use this space to provide a type of commentary, but, just given the density of the document, it did not take much for me to change my mind. What I would like to do instead is to follow Maryknoll’s guide to the document (www.maryknollogc.org). Over the next few weeks I will reproduce a portion of the guide at a time. I believe it will allow all of us to be more attuned to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. You can access the full encyclical at: www.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html
Introduction
“It is my desire that, in this our time, 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 (8).” From the very first words, Pope Francis teaches us the way of St. Francis of Assisi, who called all people his brothers and sisters (“fratelli tutti”), and was a “saint of fraternal love, simplicity and joy” who inspired this encyclical, as he did Laudato Si’.
By calling for a love that “transcends the barriers of geography and distance” and by crossing Crusade lines to meet with the Sultan of Egypt, St. Francis demonstrated his openness of heart and commitment to peace at a time of great power struggles and violence – not unlike today.
Just as St. Francis sought to live in harmony with all, Pope Francis calls us to value fraternity and friendship across all boundaries and division, as he and the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb demonstrated when they signed the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
While Pope Francis started writing this encyclical before the pandemic, the urgency of his teaching on fraternity became even more clear given the inability of countries to work together to resolve yet another problem that affects us all. Anyone who thinks the only lesson to learn from this time is to improve or reform current systems “is denying reality,” the pope says. We need a rebirth of “universal aspiration to fraternity.”
Reflection Questions:
What do you know about the life of St. Francis of Assisi?
How did he address the challenges of his time?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *