One year since Fratelli tutti: learning to live authentically

By Bruno Pazzi, Secretariat for the Service of Faith

A year has passed since Pope Francis issued Fratelli tutti, a year in which we’ve experienced the importance of being community. We have discovered the importance of community in mitigating and combating the effects of a deadly virus, but we’ve also seen the ways in which the virus has exposed our social and personal vulnerabilities. We have come to realize that no one is safe until everyone is safe, and that everyone is at risk when I put myself at risk.

Long before the Covid pandemic, other very different pandemics were coursing through our societies, but they became more evident and more virulent when Covid emerged. There is the ‘virus of nationalism’, which tends to overwhelm our good intentions and our willingness to provide the vaccine for all the world. There is also the ‘virus of fake news’, which puts many people at serious risk. Covid-19 made us realize that we had become too complacent about many situations in what we thought was “normal life”: we had become blind to our vulnerable neighbours and deaf to their cries for help amid all the noise of modern life. Fratelli tutti made us aware of the many crises to which we had become inured. Now we are now told that Covid-19 is endemic, something we have to learn to live with, but that doesn’t mean we have to live with the deeper ills of our society. Rather, we need to focus more than ever on eliminating them.

One thing that has come to light is the mental health crisis. It was always there, but the forced isolation imposed by the pandemic made it more visible (and in some cases much more severe). The crisis has also been aggravated by our dependence on social media and the new technologies of communication. They played an important role during the pandemic in “networking” us closer together, but a network is not the same as “solidarity”.


Fratelli tutti gives us hope by reminding us that, yes, we face many pandemics, but our greatest strength lies in reaching out to one another and building new relationships of care and support so that everyone can thrive. Does this sound utopian? Perhaps. But the virus, in its rapid spread and mutation, has not only shown us the value and vulnerability of our life in common, but has given us a powerful example of being a “community” that knows how to pull together in order to survive. Can we do the same now, not just for our own survival, but for the common good of all, including our Common Home? Fratelli tutti helps us to see that “normality” works only for some while it leaves others sacrificed, hurt, or exploited. Fratelli tutti also fills us with hope for new possibilities of change through rediscovering the humanity of our community. The biblical figure of Cain does not have the last word, I am my brother’s and sister’s keeper. That is what it means to live authentically.

Now is the time for us to start building something new. Hard, patient work is required, but it will be good work, undertaken with a deep sense of solidarity, and we will all have a role to play in it. The virus has reminded us that we cannot flourish or even survive without one another, so now is the time to start creating a new society. But this will require more than a political, economic, or even ecological vision. It will demand that we live from the depths of our souls, feeling compassion and being fully aware of the suffering of others. Fratelli tutti teaches us to open our eyes wide and discover not only that we have the power to be Good Samaritans, but that we are also included among those who lie wounded and dying on the roadside.

[Photos by Vatican Media]

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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