A comment on Pope Francis’s new social encyclical by the former director of Caritas India.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) - Jorge Mario Bergoglio taking the name of St. Francis of Assisi and the saint’s life and teachings as a model for his papacy, produced the encyclical ‘Fratelli Tutti’, ‘Fraternity and social friendship’. Earlier Holy Father, Pope Francis, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s passion for environment and ecology brought out the encyclical Laudato si. In Fratelli Tutti, he takes further the reflections he began in Laudato si on God’s creation and our common destiny.
Inclusivity has been the main thrust of the Holy Father, from the very beginning of his papacy. Emphasis on extending pastoral care to all people has been the exemplary gesture as vicar of Christ. The present encyclical needs to be understood from this perspective. Therefore, on one side he expresses his dissatisfaction on various forces in the world that responsible for creating ‘exclusion’ of the people. Relying entirely on market to take care of the needs of the people, irresponsible consumerism by the rich, and political instabilities, freezing the borders, have given rise to exclusion of millions of people. On the other hand, war, social unrest, migration, debt, hunger, and human trafficking is day to day experience of the millions of excluded people.
Drawing on previous encyclicals on social teachings of the Church, Pope reminds us that our responsibility towards shared destiny should enable us to build strong solidarity by imbibing the value of subsidiarity. Giving the example of the story of the good Samaritan, Pope deplores isolation, disconnectedness, prejudices, and other cultural barriers. We must recognize the face Christ in every excluded person. There must be constant dialogue among people to promote peace and equality. Every human person is capable of contributing towards the common good and therefore we should constantly strive to include everyone. Promotion of fraternity and social friendship should lead to ‘family of nations’ instead of ‘united nations’.
I hear that in Europe some people have reacted to the Pope’s reflections on private property saying that Christianity always upheld the concept of private property. The practice of private property may not have given rise to huge disparity in Europe like they have created inequality in Asia and Latin American Countries. In Europe there is fairly better system of redistribution of resources. The inequality seen in some countries is scandalous and unacceptable. I can see why Holy Father is expressing his fraternal concern over rising poverty amidst plenty.
Fratelli Tutti proposes a ‘new world order’ in post pandemic. The Covid 19 showed our need for interdependence for our very existence. We cannot ignore the fact our problems are interdependent and so also the solutions. There is need to build fraternity around us to facilitate a growth that upholds human dignity. The social friendship will bring about love, compassion, and care for another.