Fratelli Tutti

We return to the Encyclical in chapter three and we are looking at what Pope Francis writes under the headings ‘Beyond the World of Associates’, ‘A Universal Love That Promotes Persons’ and ‘Promoting the Moral Good’. In the first of those sections the paragraph to stand out for me is the one that speaks of individualism, n.105: “Individualism does not make us more free, more equal, more fraternal. The mere sum of individual interests is not capable of generating a better world for the whole family. Nor can it save us from the many ills that are now increasingly globalized. Radical individualism is a virus that is extremely difficult to eliminate, for it is clever.” Emphasis on the individual — the ‘what is in it for me and nothing else matters’ attitude — is hard to deal with. Trying to make progress in community can come to an abrupt stop when faced with that attitude in people.

Working from there, we move towards the section on ‘Universal Love that Promotes People’ — in n.110 Pope Francis says, “A truly human and fraternal society will be capable of ensuring in an efficient and stable way that each of its members is accompanied at every stage of life. Not only by providing for their basic needs, but by enabling them to give the best of themselves, even though their performance may be less than optimum, their pace slow or their efficiency limited.” As the Pope speaks of these things he is aiming at the moral good and he says, “Let us return to promoting the good, for ourselves and for the whole human family, and thus advance together towards an authentic and integral growth. Every society needs to ensure that values are passed on; otherwise, what is handed down are selfishness, violence, corruption in its various forms, indifference and, ultimately, a life closed to transcendence and entrenched in individual interests. (n.113) in paragraphs 114 to 117 he speaks of the importance of solidarity. He sees the family, teachers, communicators as having integral roles in promoting this on different levels. Within them all he sees the value of service – “Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people.” (n. 115)