‘Fratelli Tutti’: a guide to the new encyclical | Charles Scicluna

He uses the term ‘political charity’ and when he talks about the politics we need he says: “Here I would once more observe that politics must not be subject to the economy nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy”

Charles J. Scicluna is Archbishop of Malta

In his new encyclical letter Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis says that it is his desire that “in this our time, by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity…brotherhood between all men and women”.

I think that the main message of a new culture of fraternity, of openness to each other, of openness to migrants and the poor, is also very relevant to our society.

In the first chapter, the Pope looks at the state of our world and complains about the temptation to promote a ‘throwaway culture’. This expression which the Pope uses so many times in his teaching is a wakeup call, as I also had the opportunity to say in my homily on Independence Day. Our brothers and sisters should enjoy the dignity that derives from their humanity, and not because they can actually give us something or be useful in something.

The Pope also talks about a fraternity that is without borders. This is a concept that is relevant to us because we are on the southern border of the European Union. But we also should be grateful for the Pope who puts his appeal for openness to the other in a context of solidarity between nations. If fraternity should not have borders and should not be conditioned by borders, solidarity should also not be conditioned by borders or territorial jurisdiction.

The Pope talks about a new culture of encounter, an open world which is based on the value of solidarity and on a new type of politics imbued by the constant quest and promotion of the common good.

He uses the term ‘political charity’ and when he talks about the politics we need he says: “Here I would once more observe that politics must not be subject to the economy nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy. Although misuse of power, corruption, disregard for law and inefficiency must clearly be rejected, economics without politics cannot be justified, since this would make it impossible to favour other ways of handling the various aspects of the present crisis. Instead, what is needed is a politics, which is far-sighted and capable of a new integral and interdisciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of the crisis. In other words, a healthy politics capable of reforming and coordinating institutions, promoting best practices and overcoming undue pressure and bureaucratic inertia”.

Pope Francis encourages what he calls ‘the exercise of political love’: “The politician builds a bridge and that is an act of charity. While one person can help another by providing something to eat, the politician creates a job for that other person, and thus practices a lofty form of charity that ennobles his or her political activity.”

The Pope talks to our society when he promotes dialogue and friendship in society. He promotes social dialogue for a new culture. “Lack of dialogue means that in these individual sectors, people are concerned not for the common good, but for the benefits of power or, at best, for ways to impose their own ideas”. The Pope continues, “The heroes of the future will be those who can break with this unhealthy mind-set and determine respectfully to promote truthfulness aside from personal interest. God willing, such heroes are quietly emerging, even now, in the midst of our society”.

The Pope promotes a new culture of encounter and he insists that encounter should become the new culture for humanity. “To speak of a ‘culture of encounter’ means that we, as a people, should be passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges, planning a project that includes everyone. This becomes an aspiration and a style of life”.

In chapter 7, the Pope continues on this beautiful theme of encounter and talks about the art and architecture of peace. He teaches that peace is not only the absence of war but also the will for reconciliation. “Negotiation” he says, “often becomes necessary for shaping concrete parts to peace. Yet the processes of change that lead to lasting peace are crafted above all by peoples; each individual can act as an effective level by the way he or she lives each day. Great changes are not produced behind desks or in offices. This means that everyone has a fundamental role to play in a single great creative project: to write a new page of history, a page full of hope, peace and reconciliation.”

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