“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind: and your neighbor as yourself.” (Fratelli Tutti: 56) Responding to that deserves our best effort and accepting the best help we can find.
Pope Francis shares quality reflections on relations with others in his new encyclical Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship. Popes are chosen by leaders in the Church. They have special graces and are well-read in what those who have gone before them have written. For example, Pope Francis knows that all modern popes beginning with Pius XII have opposed war. “At issue is whether the development of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and the enormous and growing possibilities offered by new technologies, have granted war an uncontrollable destructive power over great numbers of innocent civilians. The truth is that ’never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely.’ We can no longer think of war as a solution, because its risks will probably always be greater than its supposed benefits. In view of this it is very difficult nowadays to invoke the rational criteria elaborated in earlier centuries to speak of the possibility of a ’just war’. Never again war!” (Fratelli Tutti: 258)
This is clear and a new emphasis. A footnote quotes St. Augustine, who forged the concept of “just war” that we no longer uphold in our own time. St Augustine also said that “it is a higher glory still to stay war itself with a word, than to slay men with the sword, and to procure or maintain peace by peace not by war.” (Fratelli Tutti: footnote 242) Pope Francis wants to move forward as we think new thoughts and recognize new changes, but he respects the past and notes what he builds on.
The Global Common Good
Pope Francis could have discussed a world federation to protect against war but he chose to enforce world law in a financial context. “[I]t is essential to devise stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments and empowered to impose sanctions. When we talk about the possibility of some form of world authority regulated by law, we need not necessarily think of a personal authority. Still, such an authority ought at least to promote more effective world organizations, equipped with the power to provide for the global common good, the elimination of hunger and poverty, and the sure defense of fundamental human rights.” (Fratelli Tutti: 172)
Pope Francis goes on to say, ”I would also note the need for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth…The work of the United Nations . . .can be seen as the development and promotion of the rule of law, based on the realization that justice is an essential condition for achieving the ideal of universal fraternity.” (Fratelli Tutti: 173) This is a clear joining of justice and love of neighbor. Pope Francis is among those who look on us as one human family living in a common home.
The encyclical is long, but the topic is fundamental and crucial to all of us. It is well worth reading. I also recommend a book written by an Israeli woman, Deb Reich with a practical attitude, seeing others as potential allies: No More Enemies.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Citizens for Global Solutions.