On Sunday 4th October, Pope Francis released his new encyclical Fratelli Tutti: All Brothers and Sisters which focuses on fraternity and social friendship. Taking St Francis of Assisi, the saint he honoured with his choice of Papal name, as his inspiration, he offers a bold and hopeful vision for a new way of living based upon a love which sees us all realise our place in a wider human family.
The first chapter sees the Holy Father explore the many causes of pain and suffering, the ‘dark clouds’ as he refers to them, in our modern world. One of his concerns is the way migrants, refugees and those forced to flee their homes are treated. This is very much in keeping with his previous words and actions in support of refugees which began from the very start of his pontificate.
He dedicates a whole chapter to exploring the way in which a fraternal love might impact refugees, migrants and the communities to which they move seeking welcome. In it Pope Francis asks for concrete steps to be taken to welcome, protect, promote and integrate new arrivals and offers examples as to what this might look like. He also proposes a beautiful ‘culture of encounter’ through which host communities and new arrivals exchange and share the gifts of one another’s culture, something which enriches those involved. This speaks clearly to all of us involved at JRS; we share in this culture of encounter through our accompaniment of our refugee friends.
The document is full of rich themes which speak to our mission and values at JRS: the upholding of the dignity of every human being, including those on the margins of our society; the importance of solidarity and community; an inclusivity that sees those who are so often overlooked given the opportunity to participate and be protagonists of change; the importance of dialogue and peacebuilding; the involvement of people of all faiths and none in sharing common values and care for one another. All these are important parts of Pope Francis’s vision for a future based on fraternal love and care for one another.
The depth and richness of the document means it will take much reflection as to how each of us as individuals, organisations, Churches and indeed as a whole society might put this into practice. We encourage you to take the time to read Fratelli Tutti and join us in reflecting what it means for all of us.
May we be able to build a world which more clearly resembles the hopeful vision of care and love for our sisters and brother which Pope Francis proposes.
Find out more – JRS UK director Sarah Teather was interviewed about Fratelli Tutti and the work of JRS UK in Crux magazine this month