December 8, 2023

We continue to ponder on the encyclical of Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti. As we widen our sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, we will see more the depth of the reflections of the Pope.
The church and politics
The law states the separation of church and state but not on the moral and spiritual spheres. Pope Francis exhorts the church to meddle for the common good and human development that underlines good governance among leaders and promotion of human dignity. He warns the church not to antagonize the government and compete with them. The church “has a public role over and above her charitable and educational activities.” She works for “the advancement of humanity and of universal fraternity.”
The church respects the autonomy of political life. It is true that religious ministers must not engage in the party politics that are the proper domain of the laity, but neither can they renounce the political dimension of life itself, which involves a constant attention to the common good and a concern for integral human development.
The church and Mary
The church is a home with open doors, because she is a mother. And in imitation of Mary, the mother of Jesus, “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 be the sign of unity… to build bridges, to break down walls, to sow seeds of reconciliation.
For many Christians, this journey of fraternity also has a mother, whose name is Mary. Having received this universal motherhood at the foot of the cross (cf. Jn 19:26), she cares not only for Jesus but also for “the rest of her children” (cf. Rev 12:17). In the power of the risen Lord, she wants to give birth to a new world, where all of us are brothers and sisters, where there is room for all those whom our societies discard, where justice and peace are resplendent.
Christian identity
The church esteems the ways in which God works in other religions, and “rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for their manner of life and conduct, their precepts and doctrines as reflecting a ray truth which enlightens all men and women.” The church can no longer claim a monopoly of salvation but trusts other religions as co-participants.
Music of the gospel
Yet we Christians are very much aware that “if the music of the gospel ceases to resonate in our very being, we will lose the joy born of compassion, the tender love born of trust, the capacity for reconciliation that has its source in our knowledge that we have been forgiven and sent forth.
If the music of the gospel ceases to sound in our homes, our public squares, our workplaces, our political and financial life, then we will no longer hear the strains that challenge us to defend the dignity of every man and woman.”
The gospel of Jesus
For us the wellspring of human dignity and fraternity is in the gospel of Jesus Christ. From it, there arises, “for Christian thought and for the action of the church, the primacy given to relationship, to the encounter with the sacred mystery of the other, to universal communion with the entire human family, as a vocation of all.”
Religious freedom
One fundamental human right must not be forgotten in the journey towards fraternity and peace. It is religious freedom for believers of all religions. That freedom proclaims that we can “build harmony and understanding between different cultures and religions. It also testifies to the fact that, since the important things we share are so many, it is possible to find a means of serene, ordered and peaceful coexistence, accepting our differences and rejoicing that, as children of the one God, we are all brothers and sisters.”