Let’s start at the very … end! A brief response to Fratelli Tutti
In this upside-down year, it may be of little surprise that my approach to Pope Francis’ latest encyclical is to start it from the end! There is much in the encyclical that excites me: some great comments on international development and anglobalization that will inform my work with MWIA, a thread around inclusion that resonates with my family’s involvement in the autism community and the eternal challenge of the Good Samaritan to act out of an abundance of love and compassion without reference to cost or societal expectations. To be honest, I don’t have the head and heart space to analyse and integrate the entire encyclical at present, so, in presenting a resource list of great commentary, articles, images and youtube clips, I also want to draw your attention to a few reflective ways to engage with the heart of the encyclical by meditation on the final liturgical texts. So, apologies to Julie Andrews, but let’s start at the very … end!
In the third last paragraph of Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis issues a combined appeal for peace, justice and fraternity with Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb (FT 285). An appeal carries weight as it evokes a sense of urgency. It is significant that this joint appeal rounds out the encyclical, maybe ‘saving the best to last’ in a true spirit of inter-faith ‘fraternity’! The appeal is a powerful text to read aloud, maybe in a liturgical celebration, at a staff meeting or with students. The appeal is book-ended by reference to God, however, it also invokes the names of all those we relegate to the margins: in the name of: innocent life, the destitute, the marginalized, those most in need, the poor ….
Who would we invoke in our schools, ministries, boards and workplaces:
In the name of …
How would we frame an invocation based on Mary Ward’s values:
In the name of freedom, justice and integrity, we …
What would a Covid-19 invocation sound like:
In the name of those who have lost their jobs, endured increased domestic violence, are dying alone …
Fratelli Tutti concludes with two prayers: one to the Creator and an Ecumenical Christian Prayer. The Prayer to the Creator is apt for so many contexts in its breadth, simplicity and inclusivity. Apart from use in a liturgical context, it is a worthy text for personal meditation, maybe in the form of lectio divina. A slow reading of the text invites the pray-er to contemplate the goodness and beauty that God has sown in each of us through to the collective challenges to create healthier societies and a more dignified world. It echoes the touchstones of our tradition of social teaching in an accessible manner.
The final prayer is a great example of a Trinitarian prayer, helping us to connect with God in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. It begins and ends in God’s love and immerses the reader/pray-er in the profound paschal mystery: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the ongoing power of Christ’s Spirit in the early Christian community and our lived reality of as one humanity that God so loves.
While Julie Andrews started with “A … B … C …”, I recommend an initial foray into Fratelli Tutti through prayer with and reflection on these final texts, plunging us directly into Pope Francis’ prayerful cri de coeur. By starting at the end one skips over the rightful angst surrounding the encyclical’s title and is encouraged to pray with the pope and our broken church for a conversion of heart and transformation of our world that is the bones of this encyclical. My hope and prayer is that Fratelli Tutti will infuse all aspects of Mary Ward’s network as we meditate on and move forward as sisters and brothers, adopting a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct (and) reciprocal understanding as the method and standard (FT 285). And while my musings start with the end, they are really a tentative beginning. If any members of our network have ideas about the shape of an ongoing dialogue around Fratelli Tutti, please contact me at email@example.com. The Resource List contains a mix of material, including offerings to date from our Mary Ward ‘circle of friends.’
Author: Anne Muirhead | Loreto Director of Mission