The Pope chose the day dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, the saint who inspired the name he adopted as pontiff, to publish a call to universal brotherhood in which he attacks the injustices of global capitalism, asks that immigrants be welcomed and defends the dialogue between different religions and cultures.
“Fratelli Tutti” (“All Brothers”, in Italian), Pope Francis' new encyclical, was signed by him in Assisi (birthplace of the saint, in central Italy) on October 3, the date on which the founder of the Franciscans died in 1226, and had its content released the next day.
The text even uses a reference to the Brazilian poet and composer Vinicius de Moraes when explaining how different cultures must learn to live together.
It is the first time that one of these papal documents has been signed outside of Rome. It was also the first time that Pope Francis left the Vatican and the Italian capital since the beginning of the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus. Assisi, normally full of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world, was almost empty during the visit of the Argentine pontiff, who celebrated a mass for a few people in the crypt where San Francisco is buried and preferred to remain silent after the rite.
As in other of his sermons, Francisco warns that the world is experiencing a “third world war in pieces”, considering the many small-scale ethnic and religious conflicts that afflict the planet. In view of this situation, he proposes an important reformulation of Catholic doctrine on the so-called “just wars”, stating that the recourse to war can practically no longer be justified today. For him, the same goes for the death penalty.
Taken as a whole, the new encyclical is perhaps the clearest summary of the paths proposed by Francis to Catholicism and to global society. Faced with an increasingly polarized world, the pope redoubled his bet on what he calls the "culture of encounter".
For this, he quoted an excerpt from the song "Samba da Bênção", composed in 1962, by Vinicius de Moraes. "Life is the art of encounter, although there is so much mismatch in life," says the pontiff's text, in reference to the Brazilian poet. It remains to be seen whether there is still time to turn the tide.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon