“Fratelli Tutti”, Pope Francis' social encyclical, was released today. In it, the pontiff advocates overcoming the dominant profit-driven market model. Human rights know no boundaries. He says no to war and the death penalty, warns against forgetting the Holocaust, and highlights the right to religious freedom.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today released Tutti Fratelli (All Brothers), his third encyclical. In it, the pontiff advocates building a just and fraternal world to replace the personal and political oppression of the dominant profit-driven market model with one based on "social friendship", solidarity, and care for the shared home.
The Pope’s “social encyclical”, as he calls it, provides “a broader context for reflection" on issues of “human fraternity and social friendship [that] have always been a concern of mine.”
The document on human brotherhood signed by Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyeb in February 2019, which is cited several times, and the sudden appearance of the pandemic, show that “no one is saved alone”.
The encyclical’s title, the Pope explains, is taken from 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 flavour of the Gospel.” This is a shared goal.
In Dark clouds over a closed world, the first of the encyclical’s eight chapters, history seems “to be showing signs of a certain regression. Ancient conflicts thought long buried are breaking out anew, while instances of a myopic, extremist, resentful and aggressive nationalism are on the rise.”
Principles such as democracy, freedom, and justice are deformed and profit-driven markets and the "throwaway culture" rule. Unemployment, racism, poverty and slavery are its offspring. Likewise, “[T]he organization of societies around the world is still far from clearly reflecting [the principle] that women have exactly the same dignity and identical rights as men.”
Conversely, the story of the Good Samaritan calls upon us to be close to others, overcoming biases, personal interests, and historical or cultural barriers. “Jesus asks us to be present to those in need of help, regardless of whether or not they belong to our social group.”
Indeed, we share the responsibility to build a society that can include, integrate and lift up those who have fallen or are suffering. As Christians, we “believe that Christ shed his blood for each of us and that no one is beyond the scope of his universal love.”
“Human beings are so made that they cannot live, develop and find fulfilment except ‘in the sincere gift of self to others’.” Hence, comes the openness to "universal communion", and the notion, which the Pope supports, that “rights have no borders".
“This means finding a way to ensure ‘the fundamental right of peoples to subsistence and progress’, a right which is at times severely restricted by the pressure created by foreign debt.”
“While respecting the principle that all legitimately acquired debt must be repaid, the way in which many poor countries fulfil this obligation should not end up compromising their very existence and growth.”
If the right to live with dignity cannot be denied to anyone, no one can be excluded, regardless of where they are born. The fate of migrants is something dear to Francis. Migrants flee from wars, persecution, natural disasters, and trafficking. The attitude towards them is summed up in four verbs: “welcome, protect, promote and integrate.” And they can be "a blessing".
Migration is a global problem; for this reason, it must be solved through “global governance”, with long-term projects implemented in the name of the co-development of all peoples. A world community must be "capable of realizing fraternity starting from peoples and nations who live social friendship” and “calls for a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good.”
Good politics cares for people and shies away from populism. It is concerned about providing jobs, an "indispensable dimension of social life”, so that everyone can develop their skills. “This is the finest help we can give to the poor, the best path to a life of dignity.”
Political leaders must fight everything that undermines fundamental human rights, such as weapons and drug trafficking, as well as sexual exploitation. In addition to hunger, which is "criminal" since food is "an inalienable right,” trafficking is a “source of shame for humanity.”
In this regard, the encyclical offers an approach centred on human dignity and not, as is the case today, on business because “The marketplace, by itself, cannot resolve every problem”. For this to happen, the United Nations must be reformed, making it the basis of a community of nations.
We may also need a “culture of dialogue” above all else. “A country flourishes when constructive dialogue occurs between its many rich cultural components: popular culture, university culture, youth culture, artistic culture, technological culture, economic culture, family culture and media culture.”
Dialogue requires respect for others and their opinions, legitimate interests and, above all, the truth of human dignity. Relativism is not a solution.
Through dialogue, which is also an assessment of ideas, “Those who were fierce enemies have to speak from the stark and clear truth. They have to learn how to cultivate a penitential memory, one that can accept the past in order not to cloud the future with their own regrets, problems and plans.”
Dialogue is also a tool of peace whose construction is everyone's task. It is an “art” that involves everyone and in which everyone must do their part. “[T]rue peace can be achieved only when we strive for justice through dialogue, pursuing reconciliation and mutual development”.
“Forgiveness and reconciliation are central themes in Christianity,” writes the Pope, “and, in various ways, in other religions.” However, it “does not entail allowing oppressors to keep trampling on their own dignity and that of others, or letting criminals continue their wrongdoing.” It does not mean demanding a kind of "social forgiveness” from “those who have endured much unjust and cruel suffering”.
“Reconciliation is a personal act, and no one can impose it upon an entire society, however great the need to foster it.” We should never forget "atrocities" such as the Holocaust, the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ethnic persecutions and massacres. “Never again war,” Francis writes, for it is “a failure [. . .] of humanity”.
The death penalty should also be rejected for it is “no longer necessary from” the point of view “of penal justice”, nor is life imprisonment, which “is a secret death penalty”.
Terrorist acts are “deplorable”, and are the result of inappropriate interpretations of religious texts, as well as the consequence of policies that lead to hunger, poverty, injustice, and oppression.
Religious freedom is a fundamental right, a fundamental human right. Violence against religions, in fact, is not in any religion. Terrorism must not be supported in any way. “As religious leaders, we are called to be true ‘people of dialogue’, to cooperate in building peace not as intermediaries but as authentic mediators.”
In this regard, the encyclical cites A document on human fraternity for world peace and living together and reiterates the appeal that, in the name of human brotherhood, we accept dialogue as the path, working together as code of conduct, and mutual understanding as the method and standard. (FP)