Overview of Fratelli Tutti (All Brothers)
By Dr. Paul Hwang Director of ALL Forum
On 4th October 2020, Pope Francis signed the third encyclical letter, Fratelli Tutti, at the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi. This document was prepared before the Covid-19, but was announced when all mankind around the world suffered from the pandemic and were skeptical about human dignity and loosing hope.
Composed of eight chapters and a total of 287 articles, the encyclical earnestly appeals that all mankind should restore brotherhood and social fraternity because humans cannot be saved alone. The miserable reality of violating human dignity, damage of neo-liberalism, structural poverty and the difficulties of refugees and migrants, is prevalent in the world. The cries of those in pain are increasing. Pope Francis reminds us that we should live as brothers and sisters pursuing a culture of world peace and dialogue and sharing friendship with each other through this social document.
Dark clouds (chapter 1) are spreading everywhere in the closed world, and injured people are driven out and abandoned on the side of the road. The shadow causes humanity to fall into chaos, isolation, and devastation. Like the story of a good Samaritan, when we encounter a stranger on the road (Chapter 2), we can pass by or stop to help him. What kind of people we are and what kind of political, social, and religious groups we follow are defined as whether we include or exclude injured travelers.
God’s love is universal. As long as we are part of that love and participate in it, we are called to universal brotherhood and to be open to all. We want an open world (Chapter 3) in God and with God. In order to achieve a world where there are no barriers, no borders, and people who are not rejected, one must have an open heart (Chapter 4). We must experience social friendship, pursue moral goodness, and practice social ethics. We are called to solidarity, encounter, and to give without expecting anything in return because we know that we are a part of all brothers and sisters in the universe.
In order to create an open world with an open mind, it is necessary to participate in politics, and it is essential to pursue a better kind of politics (Chapter 5). Politics is for common good and universal interest. Politics is ‘popular’ because it is with people and for people. The pursuit of human dignity is the politics of social charity. It is the politics of people who practice political love by integrating economic and sociocultural structures into consistent and life-giving human projects.
Knowing how to communicate is a way to open the world and build social fraternity (Chapter 6) by expressing an open heart and providing a better foundation for politics. Dialogue seeks and respects truth. It also creates a culture of encountering, becoming a way of life and passionate longing. The person who is in dialogue is generous, and acknowledges and respects the other person.
But just encountering is not enough. We have to face the reality of the hurt caused by the wrong meeting in the past, and we have to make a path of renewed encounter (Chapter 7). We must seek forgiveness and forgive, and heal wounds.
To forgive is to never forget. We must begin with the truth that acknowledges the historical truth, an inseparable companion to justice and mercy. All of this is essential to move towards peace. Conflicts are inevitable on the way to peace, but violence is not acceptable. Therefore, war is to be rejected and death penalty is a practice to be eliminated.
Many religions around the world recognize humans as creatures of God. As creatures, we are in a brotherly relationship. Religions have been called to be at the service of fraternity in the world (Chapter 8). We can build social friendship and brotherhood with dialogue and an open heart in the world. For Christians, the source of human dignity and brotherhood lies in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which inspires our actions and dedication. Mary, our mother, is with us in this path of brotherhood.
Pope Francis invites us to make the world’s longing for human fraternity our own, starting with the perception that we are all brothers and sisters, facing people injured in the dark clouds of a closed world.
Download full Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti here