Fratelli tutti

Last week we read paragraph n.87, looking at it as the introductory paragraph for chapter 3. The first subsection of the chapter, “Moving Beyond Ourselves” (nn.88 to 94) and the second one, “A Love Ever More Open” (nn.95 to 100) explore the understanding of relationship and its importance in our lives. In these paragraphs we find a number of examples of both good and faulty expressions of love. For example, in n.92 the first sentence states: ‘The spiritual stature of a person’s life is measured by love, which in the end remains ‘the criterion for the definitive decision about a human life’s worth or lack thereof’. Here, love is seen as the measuring stick of spiritual stature. In the next sentence Pope Francis gives an example of a negative approach of looking at spiritual stature where love seems absent: ‘Yet some believers think that it consists in the imposition of their own ideologies upon every one else, or in a violent defence of the truth, or in impressive demonstrations of strength.’ They are attitudes we must all be wary of falling into. As Pope Francis puts it: ‘All of us, as believers, need to recognize that love takes first place: love must never be put at risk, and the greatest danger lies in failing to love (cf. 1Corinthians 13:1-13) that primacy of love is looked at in the second sub-section “A Love Ever More Open”. In n.95 we read ‘Love also impels us towards universal communion’ and By its very nature, love calls for growth in openness and the ability to accept others as part of a continuing adventure that makes every periphery converge in a greater sense of mutual belonging. As Jesus told us: “You are all brothers” (Matthew 23:8). As the Pope continues to develop this, he refers to particular groups in society that are often left out — in paragraphs 97 to 100 some of those left out are mentioned, victims of racism, people of disability and the elderly: ‘Racism is a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting…Many persons with disabilities ‘feel that they exist without belonging and without participating. Much still prevents them from being fully enfranchised…I think, too, of the elderly who, also due to their disability, are sometimes considered a burden. Yet each of them is able to offer a unique contribution to the common good through their remarkable life stories’. At the end of n.100 Pope Francis quotes himself from his address to young people in Tokyo in 2019: “The future is not monochrome; if we are courageous, we can contemplate it in all the variety and diversity of what each individual person has to offer. How much our human family needs to learn to live together in harmony and peace, without all of us having to be the same.!”