Year 133° - January 2021

Francis shows us the way

Fr. Livio Tonello, director

On 3 October, on the tomb of St. Francis (in Assisi), Pope Francis signed his third encyclical entitled “Fratelli tutti”, published on 4 October, the feast of the Saint. This new “letter to the world” (this is the meaning of “encyclical”) challenges the entire human community for a change of direction and is inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis. At the beginning of this new year, we want to take it as an antidote to the coronavirus, indifference, and the culture of rejection.

The reflections on the epidemic bring us back to the need to intervene to restore the earth, our “common home”, reducing the consequences of environmental disasters, humanitarian crises (causes of migration), and growing social inequality. The Pope said: “The experience of the pandemic has taught us that none of us is saved alone. We have experienced at first hand the vulnerability of the human condition that is ours and that makes us one family. We have come to see more clearly that each of our personal choices affects the lives of our neighbours, those next door and those in distant parts of the world.

The turn of events has forced us to recognize that we belong to one another, as brothers and sisters dwelling in a common home.” The pandemic suddenly broke into our lives and upset them, but it also “exposed our false securities” and our “inability to work together.” For this reason, according to the Pontiff, the only effective therapy to heal a sick world, and not only of Covid-19, is a new way of living, based on fraternity and social friendship.

Ours is a society increasingly without memory: instead, we have to strive to remember what happened to understand the mistakes we made and try not to repeat them in the future. “If only this may prove not to be just another tragedy of history from which we learned nothing”, admonishes the Holy Father, who invites us to keep in mind “all those elderly persons who died for lack of respirators, partly as a result of the dismantling, year after year, of healthcare systems.”

It is more necessary than ever to take “a step forward towards a new style of life” and to rediscover “once for all that we need one another, and that in this way our human family can experience a rebirth, with all its faces, all its hands and all its voices, beyond the walls that we have erected.” This message also takes on a political value, when the Pontiff calls for “a form of global governance with regard to movements of migration” and stigmatizes the “an unhealthy populism”, also reminding us that “the marketplace cannot resolve every problem”. Pope Francis mapped out the way. Now it’s up to each of us to walk it.

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