Pope Francis’ encyclical letter “Fratelli tutti” provided the inspiration and the themes for reflection at an on-line seminar organized by The Pontifical Lateran University.
Fratelli tutti: an encyclical for beyond the time of crisis is the loose translation of the title of a webinar aiming to define the foundations upon which to build a future that is more peaceful and just.
Pope Francis’s encyclical letter on Fraternity and Social Friendship not only emphasizes that in our common home we all live as one family, it also proposes concrete actions to restore the world and overcome the ills generated by the pandemic crisis, which has now become a health, economic, social and political one.
Commitment of people and institutions
Proposing universal fraternity and solidarity as the only ways with which to build a better, more just and peaceful world, the Pope asks for the commitment of all: people and institutions.
That’s why one key participant at the webinar on Wednesday was Msgr Fernando Chica Arellano, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to three important UN agencies for development: the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme.
Moderated by the coordinator of the Rome Forum of Catholic-inspired NGOs, the on line discussion included interventions by Cardinal Ayuso, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the FAO’s chief economist and Sr Alessandra Smerilli, an expert in economy and social sciences and Professor at the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University Auxilium.
Cardinal De Donatis’ invitation
Introducing the panel discussion was Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Cardinal Vicar of the Archbasilica of St John Lateran and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Lateran University. He focused his intervention on the Pope’s invitation to strive to go beyond this crisis with discernment, hope and courage.
Cardinal De Donatis recalled the words proffered by Pope Francis when he addressed the world during the Extraordinary Moment of Prayer on 27 March last, in the pouring rain in an empty St. Peter's Square: “our eyes were turned to the Crucifix of St. Marcello, whose face, wet with rain, seemed to weep tears of compassion before the pain of wounded humanity.”
“On that occasion,” he said, “the Pope's message resounded loudly,” reminding us that we are all in the same boat, fragile and disorientated, and called to row together.”
The Pope told us, the Cardinal said, that we could not go forward on our own, but only together, weathering “the unexpected storm of the pandemic that is still shaking our lives” and that has brought to light that common belonging from which there is no escape.
Only recognizing each other as brothers and sisters, he added, can we start anew, affirming the dignity of every human person, and walking together in hope.
Hope, he continued, will allow us to see beyond the pandemic, beyond fear and discouragement; it will help us overcome the temptation to invest in small and self-centred comforts and be open to the great ideals that make life more beautiful and the world more just.
'Dare dream together'
Quoting paragraph 8 of Fratelli tutti, Cardinal De Donatis invited us to heed the Pope’s words regarding fraternity between all men and women: “Here we have a splendid secret that shows us how to dream and to turn our life into a wonderful adventure. No one can face life in isolation… We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead. How important it is to dream together… By ourselves, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together.”
At this time, he concluded, in the knowledge that dreams are built together, we must not be afraid to do just that!