David Endicott reflects on the Encyclical of Pope Francis.
If you have not read this encyclical, I would urge you to do so and to consider and take heed of the message. The message is in the title – ‘Brothers All’. Very simply – we all have a responsibility to each other, whoever we are and wherever we are born. None of us could choose our parents or the family we are born into, where we are born, the race we are, the conditions we will live in, whether they be wealthy and prosperous or deprived, living in the depths of poverty.
Fratelli Tutti is the third encyclical letter of Pope Francis and was published in the latter part of 2020. It was the basis of the Churches Together in Broadstone (CTiB) Lent Sessions held via Zoom this year with members of St John’s Church, Broadstone United Reformed Church and St Anthony’s as well as Broadstone Methodist Church – certainly a broad church! (forgive the pun).
There was however very wide agreement between the church members who participated, with what Pope Francis was saying. Dismay at the state of the world, that we should not turn our back on suffering, that we should have the capacity to love according to “a universal dimension”, the right to live with dignity, dealing with immigration and migration, politics to respect the rights of all, kindness and unselfishness, the promotion of peace.
This encyclical was issued now because the problems of the world have been exacerbated by the pandemic. It is a challenge to us all to take the pandemic as an opportunity to make things better. Pope Francis devotes a chapter to the parable of the Good Samaritan. We are challenged to respond to our brothers and sisters in need – whoever and wherever they are. We should look out for and respond to threats caused by the pandemic, unrest, conflicts, poverty, greed…… I could go on.
I have often thought that if there were a starving child outside our house I hope that we would feed and look after that child. On the other hand, a starving child on the other side of the world is still starving nonetheless and if they can’t be helped locally, then we must have a duty to that child too.
This may all sound very ideal and altruistic but radical action is necessary.
Following the Lent discussions on Zoom a CTiB Peace and Justice Group has been formed with representatives from the four churches. It is at an embryonic stage at the moment but the hope is that we can do something at least to improve matters.
What Pope Francis has to say is encapsulated in Matthew 25 vv 34-36 : Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me…'