FRATELLI Tutti or in English, Brothers All, is Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, a must-read on the brotherhood and sisterhood of all men and women. Space limitation allows me only to skim the surface of what could be the last but most significant encyclical of Francis’ papacy.
He wrote it to “contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration for fraternity.” He sees universal brotherhood/sisterhood fading away as the world forgets that “God has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters.”
Pope Francis takes notice of the underpinning ideologies, the political and economic systems whereby dehumanizing activities (slavery, war, etc.) are carried out in the world. He sees we are not addressing the pandemic as one family because of narrow nationalistic interests and so warns us that “Anyone who thinks that the only lesson to be learned was the need to improve what we were already doing, or to refine existing systems and regulations is denying reality.”
Pope Francis rejects the present world order for having resulted in inequality and the destruction of the planet and calls for a completely new one. He wants the world to be open to new politics and a new economy that insure equal dignity and equal rights of every man and woman to the earth’s resources.
He calls for a world order that is based on love of neighbor as taught by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The robbery victim was a Jew while Samaritans were a people that Jews scorned. Yet a Samaritan helped a Jew in trouble without expecting a reward.
What is most refreshing is how Pope Francis highlighted the priest and Levite who did not bother to help. This prompts him to say something the Philippine Catholic Church should take to heart,“... that belief in God and the worship of God are not enough to ensure that we are actually living in a way pleasing to God.”
The last chapter is about the role of religion in promoting this new world order. In Francis’ own words: “...The Church ... does not restrict her mission to the private sphere... It is true that religious ministers must not engage in ... party politics..., but neither can they renounce the political dimensions of life itself, which involves a constant attention to the common good... We want to be a Church that serves, that leaves home and goes forth from its places of worship, goes forth from its sacristies, in order to accompany life, to sustain hope, ...to sow seeds of reconciliation.”
Would it be too much to expect the local Catholic Church to take up Pope Francis’ challenge of a new social order (not just a change of officials) for the Philippines that respects Filipinos’ equal rights and dignity?