In the last four chapters of Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis addresses immigration, assimilation, politics and the extremes of both sides, the importance of dialogue, and how different religions can contribute significantly to building fraternity in society. Quotes from several groups of bishops including the Bishops of South Africa, South Korea, and Colombia were noted in these chapters.
Touched Me Personally
Although Pope Francis speaks to the entire world in this document, I can see the correlation to what he teaches in my personal life. For example, as I read this document, I realized that a lot of my fear and mistrust has come from what has happened in our country and the world. Because people of a certain nationality have done bad things, I generalized that the entire group was to be mistrusted. I do not believe I am unique in this stance. However, I see now how this is based solely on fear. God never wants any of us to live in fear. It is important to identify the emotion, and then stand against it. In addition, Pope Francis also addresses the importance of establishing and implementing a process to accept immigrants. The examples he provides include “increasing and simplifying the granting of visas; … community sponsorship; … suitable and dignified housing …” When a country does not have a process in place to accept immigrants or ignores the established process, then the emotion of fear becomes more prevalent in its citizens.
The chapter on politics made me think of the extreme right and left of our politics in the United States. Both sides have very good points as well as very bad points. One of the examples given was employment. “Helping the poor financially,” according to Pope Francis, “must always be a provisional solution.” However, he further states that “the broader objective should always be to allow them a dignified life through work.” This reminded me of the saying: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. People want to provide for themselves. It restores their dignity and self-worth to provide for themselves and their families.
In another part of this document, Pope Francis talks about the importance of charity both individually and institutionally. He refers once again to the Good Samaritan who “needed to have a nearby inn that could provide the help that he was personally unable to offer.” The exercise of political love was explained with the following examples. “If someone helps an elderly person cross a river, that is a fine act of charity. The politician, on the other hand, builds a bridge, and that too is an act of charity. While one person can help another by providing something to eat, the politician creates a job for that other person, and thus practices a lofty form of charity that ennobles his or her political activity.” As Pope Francis reiterates, “politicians are doers.” Their biggest concern should be finding effective solutions to “human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, slave labor, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism and internal organized crime.” There is so much to consider, and the Pope does not leave anything out. He is well aware of the dysfunction of humanity and addresses our shortcomings and misconceptions throughout the document.
To correct the issues noted in the document, Pope Francis stresses the importance of dialogue. Dialogue, according to Pope Francis, is a “readiness to give and receive, while remaining open to the truth.” We must learn to respect the other’s point of view. It is also interesting to learn what facts and experiences people use to draw their conclusions.
The true meaning of forgiveness is also stressed throughout these chapters. Pope Francis reiterates that we are called “to love everyone, without exception.” However, he also states that “true love of an oppressor means seeking ways to make him cease his oppression.” “Forgiveness,” he continues, “does not entail allowing oppressors to keep trampling on their own dignity and that of others, or letting criminals continue their wrongdoing.” We also learn from this document that forgiveness demands justice. We are cautioned to ensure anger is not fueled in obtaining the justice required and we are reminded that “forgiveness does not mean forgetting.” Despite an action that can never be tolerated, justified, or excused, “we can still forgive.” Even when the action cannot be forgotten, we can still forgive. Revenge never satisfies the victim. Instead, it resolves nothing. Forgiveness, according to Pope Francis, “enables us to pursue justice without falling into a spiral of revenge or the injustice of forgetting.”
The death penalty and war are discussed in detail in the later chapters of this document and are referred to as “false answers that do not resolve the problems they are meant to solve.”
The final chapter addresses the different religions and how “religious freedom for believers of all religions” is a “fundamental human right that must not be forgotten.” Terrorism is noted as “deplorable and threatens the security of people.” Pope Francis further states that when terrorists act out against the world, it is not because of religion. It is, however, due to “an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression, and pride.” He also clearly states that “terrorism must be condemned in all its forms and expressions.”
An Important Prayer
The following prayer is noted at the end of the document and sums up the content of this important encyclical letter. This prayer is titled: An Ecumenical Christian Prayer and was recited by Pope Francis in Assisi at the tomb of Saint Francis on October 3, 2020.
O God, Trinity of love, from the profound communion of your divine life, pour out upon us a torrent of fraternal love. Grant us the love reflected in the action of Jesus, in his family of Nazareth, and in the early Christian community.
Grant that we Christians may live the Gospel, discovering Christ in each human being, recognizing him crucified in the sufferings of the abandoned and forgotten of our world, and risen in each brother or sister who makes a new start.
Come, Holy Spirit, show us your beauty, reflected in all the people of the earth, so that we may discover anew that all are important, and all are necessary, different faces of the one humanity that God so loves. Amen.