On October 3, Francis signed his third encyclical in Assisi, Fratelli tutti, on fraternity and social friendship. A few days earlier, on September 30, he had published the apostolic letter Scripturae Sacrae affectuson the 16th centenary of the death of St. Jerome. And on October 15, from the Aula Magna of the Lateran University, the Pope issued a video message on the occasion of the meeting promoted and organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education. Global compact on education. Together we look beyond.
In this social encyclical, Fratelli tuttiand following the method of pastoral discernment, Francis offers keys, criteria and orientations for dreaming together and building together a new humanity, "as walkers of the same human flesh, as children of this same earth that shelters us all, each one with the richness of his faith or his convictions, each one with his own voice, all brothers." (n. 8). Under the main inspiration of St. Francis of Assisi, and in a perspective that is both ethical and theological-pastoral, the Pope takes into account the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and what it has brought to light: "A fragmentation that made it more difficult to solve the problems that affect us all." (n. 7).
It is not simply an aseptic description of reality, but the gaze of Christ's disciples (cfr. Gaudium et spes, 1), who wishes to "to look for a light in the midst of what we are living".. A search open to dialogue and with the purpose of "to raise some lines of action". (n. 56).
The background of faith illuminates the picture with reference and prayer to God the creator and common father. "We believers think that, without an openness to the Father of all, there will be no solid and stable reasons for the call to fraternity. We are convinced that only with this awareness of children who are not orphans can we live in peace among ourselves." (n. 260). And he adduces the reason, pointed out by Benedict XVI, that "reason alone is capable of accepting equality among men and of establishing a civic coexistence among them, but it does not succeed in founding brotherhood." (encyclical Caritas in veritate, 19).
This openness to the common Father is fully reinforced by Christian faith in divine filiation, which we the baptized proclaim as a concrete and operative horizon for advancing human solidarity. Christian faith is presented here as capable of generating the spiritual forces that make what might seem to be a utopia a reality: fraternity in all areas of reality, following the model of the Good Samaritan presented by Jesus.
As one of the keys to the reading of the document, it can be considered the binomial which appears in the subtitle of the document: fraternity (and not a solidarity based only on the noble human bonds of friendship, but also on a transcendent dimension, which guarantees common human dignity, as an absolute value and prior to decisions and actions); and at the same time, social friendship (which must be opened and extended universally to all, precisely as a manifestation and path of fraternity).
From this dynamic connection between universal fraternity and social friendship, proposals arise to confront the issues that affect us. We cannot abandon them to mere self-interest or to the temptation of idleness of those who have their needs sufficiently resolved. Priorities and means can and should be discussed. But we cannot neglect or hide the problems, nor can we change the goals that correspond both to society as a whole and to individuals: integral development, the common good, true human progress.
For a more detailed presentation of the encyclical, see Fratelli-tutti: friendship-and-fellowship-dialogue-and-encounter.
Love for Sacred Scripture
"An esteem for Holy Scripture, a living and gentle love for the written Word of God."is the heritage of St. Jerome, the Pope affirms in the apostolic letter Scripturae Sacrae affectus (30-IX-2020).
In Bethlehem, where St. Jerome moved when he was 41 years old, he spent a large part of his life, dedicating himself, among other studies, to translating the Old Testament into Latin from the original Hebrew text (what is known as the "Old Testament edition"). Vulgatabecause it became the common heritage even of the Christian people).
In contrast to certain strong tones found in some of his works, moved by love for the truth and his ardent defense of Christ, this saint emphasized in the Scriptures, in the words of Francis, "the humble character with which God revealed Himself, expressing Himself in the rough and almost primitive nature of the Hebrew language.". He showed the importance of the Old Testament, since it "only in the light of the OT 'figures' is it possible to fully understand the meaning of Christ's event, fulfilled in his death and resurrection.".
St. Jerome is a good teacher and guide for the study of the Sacred Scriptures, whose richness, the Pope notes, "is unfortunately ignored or minimized by many because they have not been provided with the essential foundations of knowledge.". For this reason Francis desires that the biblical formation of all Christians be promoted, so that each one may draw from it many fruits of wisdom, hope and life.
Thus Jerome exhorted his contemporaries: "Read very often the Divine Scriptures, or better, never let the sacred text fall out of your hands." (Ep 60, 10).
For a global educational pact
In addressing the current situation of education in his video message of October 15, Francis also begins by referring to the pandemic. To the health, economic and social difficulties he adds the difficulties in the field of education (he speaks of an "educational catastrophe"), despite the benefits and efforts of digital communication.
To alleviate this situation, we need to go deeper and with realism. A whole new cultural and development model is required. "What is in crisis." -acknowledges the Pope. "it is our way of understanding reality and of relating to each other".
We cannot stand idly by without promoting an education for all that is able to "to generate and show new horizons, in which hospitality, intergenerational solidarity and the value of transcendence build a new culture.". For education is an effective way to humanize the world and history. And above all, "a matter of love and responsibility".
Therefore -deduce Francisco-"education is proposed as the natural antidote to individualistic culture", without allowing our faculties of thought and imagination, of listening, dialogue and mutual understanding to be impoverished.
That is why a new educational commitment is needed to overcome injustices, violations of rights, great poverty and human exclusion, and we need courage to generate processes precisely in the perspective of fraternity. Processes capable of"to have an impact on the heart of a society and give birth to a new culture".. And for that, we should not expect to get everything done from governments or institutions.
The Pope proposes seven criteria to advance in this global educational pact: the centrality of the person and the responsibility to transmit values and knowledge children, adolescents and young people; the promotion of education for girls and young women; to place the family as the first and indispensable educator; to educate and to educate ourselves in order to the reception of the most needy; to look for another way of understanding economics and politics, growth and progressto safeguard and care for our natural resources. common house.
For this renewed educational project, we offer the reference of the Church's social doctrine as a light and impulse of beauty and hope.