Fratelli Tutti is an encyclical that dreams of, and plans for, a new, inclusive and fraternal world. Once again Pope Francis has drawn inspiration from St. Francis of Assisi: in addition to taking Francis as his name, the Pope has now written a second Encyclical inspired by the Poverello – the first was Laudato si’. It is also significant that the Pope decided to sign the document upon the tomb of St. Francis, after celebrating Mass in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Francis on October 3, 2020.

Fratelli Tutti takes its title and opening words from the Admonitions of Francis of Assisi. The encyclical is a great universal project, a commitment of life and service, and an invitation to fraternity and social friendship. It breaks down all walls in order to build bridges of brotherhood, solidarity and justice. Pope Francis finds a model for this style precisely in Brother Francis, in Francis’ desire to open a dialogue with those who are “different.” The encyclical mentions the episode of Francis’ visit with Sultan Malik AL KAMIL. It also tells us that Francis was a man whose “fidelity to his Lord was commensurate with his love for his brothers and sisters” (no. 3). Therefore, in giving witness to dialogue – the first step in building relationships – “Francis did not wage a war of words aimed at imposing doctrines; he simply spread the love of God…he became a father to all and inspired the vision of a fraternal society” (no. 4). He was an advocate of that minority which makes us small before every creature.
The encyclical is divided into eight chapters and contains many of the Pope’s well-known reflections on fraternity and social friendship. It is a sort of summa of his vision of the world, written in the words and actions of his pontificate with the intention of establishing dialogue. Consider his meeting in Abu Dhabi and the document on brotherhood which he co-signed with the Grand Imam Ahmad AL-TAYYEB. It was aimed at recovering and rebuilding a mutual fraternal relationship.  This has become even more important as we face the difficulties posed by the pandemic (which began at the same time Pope Francis was drafting his encyclical). The encyclical provides further food for thought on the indispensability of having a global vision of humanity’s path. We shall always remember that extraordinary moment of prayer on March 27, 2020, in the midst of the lockdown, when the Pope, speaking for the world, invoked God’s help from a deserted St. Peter’s Square, beaten by rain, under a mantel of shared dismay.
Just as he has before, Pope Francis emphasizes how we are all in the same boat. He talks about how Covid-19 has shattered so many of our false certainties and how, in order to find safe harbor, a synergy is more necessary than ever. He reminds us that “no one is saved alone” (no. 32) and that we must rethink our lifestyles, relationships, the way society is organized, and our own existence.
But how do we proceed in this context, how do we solve this very intricate puzzle and how do we get out of a crisis that has so many fronts and regain a healthy, balanced world? Fratelli Tutti offers us a kind of roadmap that indicates where the cliffs and dead-end streets are. It also shows us a path to reach a renewed world order, characterized by a new outlook that must start first with each of us. It offers us a dream that lets us dream together “as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all” (no. 8).

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Elisabetta LO IACONO, Seraphicum Press Office