Our Saint Francis of Assisi group has been reading Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti. During our February Zoom meeting, we discussed Chapter 5. We’ve all heard the adage “Never discuss politics or religion in polite company.” But in Chapter 5, our fearless Pope Francis mixes both. The chapter’s title is “A better kind of politics”. It starts:
The development of a global community of fraternity based on the practice of social friendship on the part of peoples and nations calls for a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good. Sadly, politics today often takes forms that hinder progress towards a different world.
Pope Francis tells us that politics is not something inherently bad. Indeed, he goes on to say:
[Good] politicians are doers, builders with ambitious goals, possessed of a broad, realistic and pragmatic gaze that looks beyond their own borders. Their biggest concern should not be about a drop in the polls, but about finding effective solutions to “the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences…
Even as forms of fanaticism, closedmindedness and social and cultural fragmentation proliferate in present-day society, a good politician will take the first step and insist that different voices be heard.
We must regularly practice the virtue of charity:
Only a gaze transformed by charity can enable the dignity of others to be recognized and, as a consequence, the poor to be acknowledged and valued in their dignity, respected in their identity and culture, and thus truly integrated into society.
Politics can serve a noble cause:
We are still far from a globalization of the most basic of human rights. That is why world politics needs to make the effective elimination of hunger one of its foremost and imperative goals…Hunger is criminal; food is an inalienable right.
Pope Francis makes it clear: politicians can’t leave their Christian values at the door before entering their chambers. But this is also true, when us non-politicians enter the workplace (even if it’s virtual), or movie theater, or encounter a homeless person in front of the grocery store.
Working together, we can help take care of our common home.