World Council of Churches (WCC) interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca offered reflections on the newest encyclical of Pope Francis, Fratelli tutti. Subtitled “On fraternity and social friendship,” the document is the Pope’s third encyclical.
The encyclical reflects that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the failure of the world to work together, and that the true worth of the different countries of our world is measured by their ability to think as part of the larger human family.
Pope Francis uses the parable of the Good Samaritan to encourage people to examine whether they are capable of accompanying, caring for and supporting the most frail and vulnerable members of our developed societies.
Sauca said that Fratelli tutti tries to help us navigate together through the world’s grave challenges and overcome them. “In the interpretation of this parable Pope Francis identifies an important key thought that affects us socially and politically, namely the Christian virtue of love,” said Sauca. “Thinking, working, and acting by cultivating this virtue, which is understood as the cornerstone for our coexistence, people can build relationships, which go beyond networks of associations to an expression of solidarity that finds concrete expression in service.”
Only through personal conversion can people share their gifts and at last realize a spirit of communion, Sauca added. "Fraternity and social friendship are the forms of peaceful relationships between people inspired by the virtue of love,” Sauca said.
The encyclical shows important intersections with the WCC’s diverse areas of work and a great concordance with its vision, Sauca concluded, noting that the theme of the 11th WCC Assembly, which will take place in 2022 in Karlsruhe, Germany, is “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.”
“In our world, dominated by dividing forces and individual interests, the assembly theme is an affirmation of faith that Christ’s love transforms the world in the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit,” said Sauca. “Against the powers of destruction and sin, the assembly theme affirms that the love of the compassionate, crucified, and risen Christ is at the heart of this world.”
It is not only about Christ’s love for us, but at the same time our love for him and for each other, Sauca said. “Love is not something we choose, but it has chosen us first and is choosing us always anew,” he said. “Making space for the divine love to work in and through us, we discover the way we are called to live our citizenship.”
Widening the horizon of our interconnectedness enables us to work for social justice and to condemn every action which affects the dignity of any human being, Sauca concluded. “It is a radical call to all Christians to seek ways of working for peace and reconciliation with people of other faiths and all those of good will,” he said. “It is a call for the visible unity of the church to become a prophetic sign and a foretaste of the reconciliation of this world with God, and the unity of humankind and all creation.”