Fratelli Tutti 243: A Difficult Task

Is forgiveness an easy task? Pope Francis is a realist. He knows, as most of us do, that reconciliation among loved ones can seem impossible at times. Do cultures, groups, minorities within nations, and even international relations stand a chance?

243. To be sure, “it is no easy task to overcome the bitter legacy of injustices, hostility and mistrust left by conflict. It can only be done by overcoming evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21) and by cultivating those virtues which foster reconciliation, solidarity and peace”. [Arrival Ceremony, Colombo, Sri Lanka(13 January 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 14 January 2015, p. 7]

What does it mean to cultivate virtues? Probably not to just cite them as ideals. Probably also not to think we can accomplish them without personal work and divine grace. Farming is not easy work. Even a modest backyard patch of flowers or vegetables will make a gardener sweat.

In this way, “persons who nourish goodness in their heart find that such goodness leads to a peaceful conscience and to profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties and misunderstandings. Even when affronted, goodness is never weak but rather, shows its strength by refusing to take revenge”.[Meeting with the Children of the “Bethany Centre” and Representatives of other Charitable Centres of Albania, Tirana, Albania (21 September 2014): Insegnamenti II, 2 (2014), 288] 

Looking within, seeing ourselves as the aggressor and not always as the aggrieved:

Each of us should realize that “even the harsh judgment I hold in my heart against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never cured, the offense that was never forgiven, the rancour that is only going to hurt me, are all instances of a struggle that I carry within me, a little flame deep in my heart that needs to be extinguished before it turns into a great blaze”.[Video Message to the TED Conference in Vancouver (26 April 2017): L’Osservatore Romano, 27 April 2017, p. 7]

All citations of Fratelli Tutti (which can be found on this link) are © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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