Relationships, Love, and Charity

Chapter three of Fratelli Tutti, is entitled “Envisaging and Engendering an Open World” and discusses relationships, love, acts of solidarity and service, openness, morality, and universal rights. 

Pope Francis makes it clear: We need to move beyond ourselves in order to truly live:

No one can experience the true beauty of life without relating to others, without having real faces to love. This is part of the mystery of authentic human existence.

Pope Francis notes that even monastic communities, who were normally focused on silence and discipline follow the Rule of Saint Benedict that insists that “the poor and pilgrims be treated with the utmost care and attention” when they visit a monastery.

The Holy Father also tells us that certain disciplined habits when practiced in a vacuum were not virtues:

Without charity, we may perhaps possess only apparent virtues, incapable of sustaining life in common. Thus, Saint Thomas Aquinas could say – quoting Saint Augustine – that the temperance of a greedy person is in no way virtuous.

In other words, no matter how many rosaries you say and no matter how many hours in the day you pray, if you do this only by yourself and for yourself, without any participation in community and without performing any acts of selflessness, you haven’t fulfilled the commandments “the way God wants them to be fulfilled”. He goes on to say:

Love also impels us towards universal communion. No one can mature or find fulfilment by withdrawing from others. By its very nature, love calls for growth in openness and the ability to accept others as part of a continuing adventure that makes every periphery converge in a greater sense of mutual belonging. As Jesus told us: “You are all brothers”. 

Pope Francis implores us to move away from individualism towards a universal love that includes everyone as our brothers and sisters, cutting across classes, gender, disabilities, and geographical borders, in solidarity with “every human person, always and everywhere.

Yes, this is a tall order, but Jesus never said that following him would be easy. Can you think of one additional way you can move towards universal love of and service to others? How will you execute on that today, and, if not today, by the end of the week?

You can find chapter three of Fratelli Tutti, as well as the rest of the encyclical at

Working together, we can help take care of our common home. 

Paul Litwin

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