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Pope Francis clearly does not see his words here as the end of the discussion. They are a start. Many Catholics do not get this. They think of Vatican II or papal encyclicals in the way they would do it: give the word and expect obedience here on out. Pope Francis, as much as we’re willing to engage on his level, offers something “modest.” I’m inclined to take him at his word.
6. The following pages do not claim to offer a complete teaching on fraternal love, but rather to consider its universal scope, its openness to every man and woman. I offer this social Encyclical as a modest contribution to continued reflection, in the hope that in the face of present-day attempts to eliminate or ignore others, we may prove capable of responding with a new vision of fraternity and social friendship that will not remain at the level of words.
The following is a statement of hope, and the beginning of dialogue, not the end of it:
Although I have written it from the Christian convictions that inspire and sustain me, I have sought to make this reflection an invitation to dialogue among all people of good will.
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