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Understanding the Pope’s Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti

October 8, 2020

Leaders of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men offered a brief synopsis of the 90-page, third encyclical of Pope Francis to its members, which includes the Viatorian Community. Here is a portion of it:

Pope Francis greets Luke Sylvestri, a student at St. Viator Parish School in Las Vegas.

“The much anticipated pastoral letter Fratelli Tutti has landed! From the very first line, Pope Francis sets the tone, calling us to go deep and fully embrace “a way of life marked by the flavor of the Gospel” in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, the “saint of fraternal love, simplicity and joy” who inspired this encyclical, as he did Laudato Si.

“As religious, we recognize echoes of the Holy Father’s call to us in Wake Up the World, when he challenged us to transform our secular world by being special witnesses of doing, acting, and living. This encyclical builds upon that foundation.

“In setting the stage in Fratelli Tutti, he writes that “the dream of working together for justice and peace seems an outdated utopia.” Our global world, rather than bringing a “sense of belonging to a single human family,” has brought “globalized indifference.” (30) This indifference includes the unborn, disabled, and elderly. Though connected globally, we do not see our brothers, our neighbors.

“With this in mind, he calls us to reflect in a new way upon the Good Samaritan. Who are we – who am I – in this parable?

‘Each day we have to decide whether to be Good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders. And if we extend our gaze to the history of our own lives and that of the entire world, all of us are, or have been, like each of the characters in the parable. All of us have in ourselves something of the wounded man, something of the robber, something of the passers-by, and something of the Good Samaritan.’ (69)

“The themes of fraternity and social friendship invite the faithful—and all people of good will—to seek transformational encounters at the local and universal level. The emphasis on love, openness, and hope situate the encyclical as a pastoral missive as well as a doctrinal statement.”