Fratelli Tutti 1-2: Why This Document

I’m seeing lots of links to commentaries on Fratelli Tutti. If you want to cut through the chatter and go directly to the document, click here

I think the “lack” of sisters in the title shows that inclusive language is still a live concern. If some of us hear less and less of it, it might be that the mansplainers have unplugged a bit from the mainstream. Still, it’s a quote from eight centuries ago. And two, Pope Francis seems to recognize that the saint of Assisi was addressing women as well as men. He keeps the quote without adjustment, but uses the reference of today:

1. “FRATELLI TUTTI”.[Admonitions, 6, 1. English translation in Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol 1., New York, London, Manila (1999), 131] With these words, Saint Francis of Assisi addressed his brothers and sisters and proposed to them a way of life marked by the flavor of the Gospel. Of the counsels Francis offered, I would like to select the one in which he calls for a love that transcends the barriers of geography and distance, and declares blessed all those who love their brother “as much when he is far away from him as when he is with him”.[Ibid., 25: op. cit., 136] In his simple and direct way, Saint Francis expressed the essence of a fraternal openness that allows us to acknowledge, appreciate and love each person, regardless of physical proximity, regardless of where he or she was born or lives.

I don’t think we are easily escaping “fraternity.” Maybe that’s a miss. If fraternity suggests more of a literal brotherhood outside of Greek culture, perhaps what the Holy Father is grasping at is a sense of family. We do see such expressions of togetherness–sisterhood or brotherhood, if you will, in many non-religious aspects of modern culture. Admit it: sports, school spirit, the best workplaces, “ensemble” entertainment in the media, rock bands (and other popular forms). Seeds have been sown in these places.

2. This saint of fraternal love, simplicity and joy, who inspired me to write the Encyclical Laudato Si’, prompts me once more to devote this new Encyclical to fraternity and social friendship. Francis felt himself a brother to the sun, the sea and the wind, yet he knew that he was even closer to those of his own flesh. Wherever he went, he sowed seeds of peace and walked alongside the poor, the abandoned, the infirm and the outcast, the least of his brothers and sisters.

So, we’re not just talking any old familial connection, but one that looks out for those in need. In other words, “the least of (our) brothers and sisters.” Nothing wrong with that inspiration, is there?

All citations of Fratelli Tutti are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Fratelli Tutti 1-2: Why This Document

  1. Devin Rice says:

    I confess I am a bit surprised with the St. Francis citation. The Pope seems to be applying the quote “as much when he is far away from him as when he is with him” beyond the meaning the original to include not just people one has had prior contact with but even those with no association. Not that I disagree with the sentiment. In fact another saint, John Henry Newman more directly touches on the topic a bit more directly in his writings.

    Here is an excerpt, but I encourage the whole sermon.

    “….the love of our private friends is the only preparatory exercise for the love of all men….Now God’s merciful Providence has in the natural course of things narrowed for us at first this large field of duty; He has given us a clue. We are to begin with loving our friends about us, and gradually to enlarge the circle of our affections, till it reaches all Christians, and then all men. Besides, it is obviously impossible to love all men in any strict and true sense. What is meant by loving all men, is, to feel well-disposed to all men, to be ready to assist them, and to act towards those who come in our way, as if we loved them.”

    In our globalized, interconnected, and migratory world “those who come our way” has changed greatly since both St. Francis and Newman’s time.

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