Resist the truth of simplicity



1. »Fratelli tutti«[1] wrote St. Francis of Assisi, addressing all the brothers and sisters to explain to them a way of life according to the Gospel. From his advice I would like to single out the one with which he invites a love that transcends all political and spatial boundaries. Here he calls the person blessed who "even if he is far away from him loves and respects the other as much as if he were with him". [2] With these few and simple words, he explained the essence of an amicable openness that allows each person beyond his own environment and beyond the place in the world where he was born and where he lives to be recognized, valued and loved.

2. This saint of fraternal love, simplicity and cheerfulness, who made me write the encyclical Laudato si ’ stimulated, motivates me once again to dedicate this new encyclical to fraternity and social friendship. Indeed, St. Francis, who saw himself as the brother of the sun, the sea and the wind, knew himself much more deeply at one with those who, like himself, were of human flesh. He sowed peace everywhere and went his way by the side of the poor, the abandoned, the sick, the outcast and the least.

Without Borders

3. There is an incident in his life that shows us his heart without limits, able to cross the gap between origin, nationality, skin color and religion. It is about his visit to Sultan Malik-al-Kamil in Egypt. This visit meant a great effort for him because of his poverty, the few resources available, the distance and the differences in language, culture and religion. In that historical moment marked by the Crusades, this journey showed once again the size and breadth of the love that he wanted to live in the desire to embrace everyone. Loyalty to God his Lord corresponded to his love for brothers and sisters. Francis went to the Sultan without understanding the difficulties and dangers of such an encounter. He did this with the attitude he required of his disciples, namely that no one should deny his identity who “wants to go among the Saracens and other unbelievers [...] and that they neither quarrel nor quarrel, but for God's sake of every human creature are subject to «. [3] In this context, it was a very unusual invitation. It touches me how Francis, eight hundred years ago, invited everyone to avoid all forms of aggression and quarrel and also to practice humble and fraternal "submission", even to those who did not share their faith.

4. He did not fight verbatim to impose his teachings, but shared the love of God. He understood: "God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God remains in him" (1 Joh 4.16). In this way he became a loving father who realized the dream of fraternal communion; because "only the man who takes it upon himself to approach other people in their movement, not to take them over, but to help them to become more themselves, actually becomes a father". [4] In that world full of watchtowers and defensive walls, the cities saw bloody wars between powerful families while the slums of the outcasts grew on the fringes. There Francis received inwardly true peace, he freed himself from any desire to rule others, he became one of the least and tried to live in harmony with them. The motivation for these pages comes from him.

5. The issues associated with fraternity and social friendship have always been important to me. I have referred to it repeatedly on several occasions over the past few years. In this encyclical I have collected many of these contributions and placed them in a larger framework for reflection. If I was writing Laudato si ’ A source of inspiration was given by my brother, the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, who was emphatically committed to concern for creation, so in this case I was particularly inspired by Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, whom I met in Abu Dhabi am There we recalled that God "created all human beings with equal rights, duties and dignity and called them to live together as brothers and sisters". [5] It was not a simple diplomatic act, but a reflection based on dialogue and mutual commitment. The present encyclical gathers and develops principles of principle which are listed in that document jointly signed by us. In doing so, with my own words, I also recorded numerous documents and letters that I received from many people and groups from all over the world.

6. The following pages do not purport to present the teaching on brotherly love in a comprehensive manner. Rather, they dwell in their universal dimension, in their opening to everyone. I offer this social encyclical as a humble contribution to reflection. Given certain current practices of eliminating or ignoring others, we are able to respond with a new dream of fraternity and social friendship that is not limited to words. So I wrote this encyclical on the basis of my Christian convictions, which inspire and nourish me, and at the same time have endeavored to keep these reflections open for dialogue with all people of good will.

7. As I was writing this, the Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly broke out, exposing our false securities. In addition to the different responses given by the various countries, it was clear that there was an inability to act together. Despite all the networking, fragmentation has occurred which has made it considerably more difficult to solve the problems that affect everyone. If someone thinks that what we have already done is only going to work better, or that the only message is to improve the systems and rules that are already in place, then they are on the wrong track.

8. I have the great wish that in this time that has been given to us to live, we recognize the dignity of every human being and awaken in all a worldwide pursuit of brotherhood. For all: »This is a beautiful secret that makes it possible to dream and to turn life into a beautiful adventure. Nobody can master life on their own [...]. A community is needed that supports us, that helps us and in which we help each other to look forward. How important is it to dream together! […] Alone one is in the danger of the illusion that lets one see something that is not there; together, however, one develops dreams «. [6] Let us dream as a single humanity, as companions of the same human flesh, as children of the same earth that accommodates us all, each with the richness of his faith or convictions, each with his own voice, all brothers and sisters.



9. Without pretending to be an exhaustive analysis or to consider all aspects of the reality in which we live, I would just like to draw your attention to some of the tendencies in today's world that hinder the development of fraternity among all people.

Dreams that burst

10. For decades it seemed that the world had learned from so many wars and disasters and was slowly moving towards various forms of integration. Thus, for example, the dream of a united Europe has progressed, which was able to recognize the common roots and at the same time to be happy about the diversity that resides in it. Let us remember »the firm conviction of the founding fathers of the European Union [...] who wanted a future based on the ability to work together to overcome the divisions and to bring about peace and communion among all the peoples of the continent promote «. [7] The pursuit of Latin American integration has also picked up speed and has already taken some steps. In other countries and regions there have been pacification and rapprochement efforts that have borne fruit; others seemed promising.

11. But history provides indications of a step backwards. Untimely conflicts break out that were believed to have been overcome. Stubborn, exaggerated, angry and aggressive nationalisms are reviving. In various countries an idea of ​​the people and the nation permeated by certain ideologies is accompanied by new forms of selfishness and loss of social sentiment hidden behind a supposed defense of national interests. This reminds us that “Each generation must embrace the struggles and achievements of previous generations and lead them to higher goals. This is the way. Good, like love, justice and solidarity, cannot be obtained once and for all; they have to be won anew every day. It is impossible to settle for what one has achieved in the past and dwell on it, as if we did not realize that many of our brothers and sisters are suffering from situations of injustice that concern us all ” ]

12. “Being open to the world” is an expression that the economy and the financial world have made their own. It refers exclusively to the openness to foreign interests or to the freedom of economic powers to invest in all countries without obstacles and difficulties. Local conflicts and a lack of interest in the common good are being instrumentalized by the global economy to implement a single cultural model. Such a culture unites the world, but separates people and nations, because "the increasingly globalized society makes us neighbors, but not siblings". [9] We are more lonely than ever in this massed world that favors individual interests and weakens the communal dimension of existence. Above all, there are more markets where people play the role of consumers or spectators. The advance of this globalism usually favors the stronger areas that can assert themselves, but seeks to affect the weakest and poorest regions, making them more vulnerable and dependent. In this way, the policy towards the multinational economic powers that use “divide and rule” becomes more and more fragile.

The end of historical awareness

13. For the same reason a loss of historical awareness is encouraged, which provokes further dissolution. One perceives the advance of a kind of "deconstructivism" in culture, in which human freedom pretends to build everything anew. All that remains is the need to consume without limits and the emergence of many forms of a contentless individualism. In this context a piece of advice is appropriate that I once gave young people: “If someone makes you an offer and tells you not to heed history, not to heed the wealth of experience of the ancients and you can disregard everything that is past is, and should only look to the future that he offers you, wouldn't this be a simple way of attracting you with his offer, in order to only let you do what he tells you? This someone needs you empty, uprooted, suspicious of everything, so that you only trust his promises and submit to his plans. This is how ideologies of different stripes work, destroying - or dismantling - all that is different; in this way they can rule without resistance. To this end, they need young people who despise history, who reject the spiritual and human wealth that has been passed down through the generations and who do not know all that has preceded them ”. [10]

14. These are the new forms of cultural colonization. We do not want to forget that “the peoples who utter their own tradition and, out of an imitation mania, an imposed force, an unforgivable negligence or an apathy, tolerate their soul being torn from them, along with their spiritual physiognomy, their moral stability and ultimately their own lose ideological, economic and political independence «. [11] An effective way to liquidate historical awareness, critical thinking, commitment to justice, and ways and means of integration is to drain or manipulate the big words of their meaning. What do some of these terms like democracy, freedom, justice, unity mean today? They have been manipulated and distorted in order to use them as instruments of domination, as meaningless labels that can serve to justify any action.

Without a plan for everyone

15. The best way to rule and move forward unreservedly is to sow hopelessness and arouse constant suspicion, even when disguised as defending some values. Today the political mechanism of inciting, hardening and polarizing is used in many countries. In various ways, one denies others the right to exist and to think for themselves. For this purpose, one uses the strategy of ridicule, of stoking suspicion against them, of encircling. One does not accept their view of truth and their values. In this way society becomes impoverished and reduced to the self-importance of the fittest. Politics is therefore no longer a healthy discussion about long-term projects for the development of all and for the common good, but only offers fleeting recipes for marketing, which find their most effective means in the destruction of the other. In this primitive game of disqualifications, the debate is manipulated so that it does not go beyond the level of controversy and confrontation.

16. With such a clash of interests, which turns everyone against everyone and where victory becomes a synonym for destruction, how is it still possible to raise one's head to see one's neighbor or to stand by someone who has fallen in the street? A plan with big goals for the development of mankind sounds like madness today. The gaps between us are widening, and the hard and sluggish path to a united and fairer world suffers a new and drastic setback.

17. Taking care of the world that surrounds us and sustaining us means taking care of ourselves. But we have to unite in a “we” that lives in the common house. This endeavor is of no interest to the economic powers that need quick returns. Often the voices that rise in defense of the environment are silenced or made ridiculous and, on the other hand, particular interests are wrapped in a cloak of rationality. In this culture that we are building - empty, focused on the immediate and with no common plan - it is “predictable that, with some resources exhausted, a situation will arise that will favor new wars disguised as an assertion of noble claims «. [12]

The Committee of the World

18. Sections of humanity seem capable of being sacrificed for the benefit of a privileged section of the population believed worthy to lead a life without restrictions. Basically, people are »no longer perceived as a priority value to be respected and protected, especially if they are poor or have a disability, if - like the unborn - they are" not yet useful "or - like the old - "Are no longer useful". We have become insensitive to all forms of waste, starting with the food that is one of the most reprehensible. "[13]

19. The decline in the birth rate, which is causing the population to age, and the fact that the elderly are left in painful loneliness, implicitly suggest that we will be all over where our individual interests count. Thus "today not only food and superfluous goods are turned into rubbish, but people are often even" thrown away "". [14] We saw what happened to the elderly in some parts of the world due to the Corona virus. You shouldn't die this way.In fact, something similar had happened in some heat waves and under other circumstances: They were brutally thrown away. We do not notice that it is also harmful to the family and makes them poorer when older people are isolated or left in the care of others without adequate, close family support. Incidentally, it means that young people are deprived of the necessary contact with their roots and with a wisdom that young people cannot reach on their own.

20. This segregation manifests itself in a number of ways, such as an obsession with reducing the cost of labor without realizing the grave consequences of such action; because the resulting unemployment leads directly to an increasing spread of poverty. [15] The segregation also takes on hideous forms that we believed to be overcome, such as racism that is hidden and re-emerges over and over again. The various forms of racism fill us with shame again, because they show that the supposed progress of society is not so real and secure once and for all.

21. There are economic rules which prove to be effective for growth, but not equally effective for the overall development of man. [16] Wealth grows, but unevenly, and so "new forms of poverty arise". [17] If one says that the modern world has reduced poverty, then one measures here with standards of other epochs, which are not comparable with the current reality. In other times, for example, lack of access to electrical energy was not viewed as a sign of poverty and was not a cause for concern. One investigates and one understands poverty only in the context of the real circumstances of a certain historical moment.

Human rights that are not universal enough

22. It is often found that, in fact, human rights do not apply equally to everyone. Respect for these rights »is a prerequisite for the social and economic development of a country. When human dignity is respected and human rights are recognized and guaranteed, creativity and enterprising spirit also flourish, and the human personality can develop its diverse initiatives for the benefit of the common good. "[18] But “if one observes our contemporary societies carefully, one indeed discovers numerous contradictions, on the basis of which we ask ourselves whether the equality of dignity for all human beings, which was solemnly proclaimed 70 years ago, is really recognized, respected and protected under all circumstances and is promoted. There are still numerous forms of injustice in the world today, nourished by condensed anthropological perspectives and an economic model that is based on profit and does not shy away from exploiting, throwing away and even killing people. While one part of humanity lives in abundance, the other part sees its own dignity denied, despised, trampled upon and its basic rights ignored or violated «. [19] What does this say about the equality of rights based on the same human dignity?

23. Accordingly, societies around the world are far from being organized in a way that clearly reflects that women have exactly the same dignity and rights as men. Words are used to assert certain things, but the choices and reality scream out a different message. Indeed, "women who suffer situations of exclusion, abuse and violence are doubly poor because they often have fewer opportunities to defend their rights". [20]

24. Let us also be aware of the following fact: “Although international society has made numerous agreements aimed at ending slavery in all its forms and has put in place various strategies to combat this phenomenon, […] will Millions of people - children, men and women of all ages - are still deprived of their freedom and forced to live in conditions comparable to those of slavery. [...] Today, as yesterday, at the root of slavery lies an understanding of people that allows them to be treated like an object. [...] Man, who is created in the image of God and like him, is robbed of his freedom by force, cunning or physical or psychological coercion, is commercialized and reduced to the property of another; it is treated as a means and not an end ”. The criminal networks "cleverly use modern information technology to attract young and very young people from all over the world". [21] There is no limit to the confusion of enslaving women who are then forced to have an abortion. There are even heinous acts like kidnapping people to sell their organs. All of this makes human trafficking and other current forms of slavery a worldwide problem that must be taken seriously by all of humanity, because “just as criminal organizations use global networks to achieve their goals, so does the action to overcome this phenomenon also a joint and equally global effort on the part of the various actors that make up society «. [22]

Conflict and fear

25. Wars, assassinations, persecutions for racist or religious motives and so many acts of violence against human dignity are punished in different ways, depending on whether they are more or less favorable to certain, essentially economic interests. Something is true as long as it is agreeable to a powerful person and is no longer true when it is no longer useful for him. Such violent situations "have so multiplied in numerous regions of the world that they have taken on the features of what one might call a" third world war in stages "". [23]

26. It is not surprising when we see the lack of horizons that bring us together in unity, because in every war "the project of fraternity itself [...] which is inscribed in the vocation of the human family" is ultimately destroyed, because "each Threat feeds distrust and encourages people to retreat to their own position «. [24] Our world thus progresses in a senseless dichotomy with the claim "to want to defend and secure stability and peace on the basis of a false security supported by a logic of fear and mistrust". [25]

27. Paradoxically, there are ancestral fears that technological advances have not overcome. Rather, they knew how to hide and were able to multiply themselves behind new technologies. Even today there is the abyss behind the walls of the old city, the land of the unknown, the desert. What comes from there is not trustworthy because you do not know it, you are not familiar with it, because it does not belong to the village. It is the area of ​​the "barbaric", from which one must defend oneself, no matter what the cost. As a result, new barriers to self-protection are set up so that there is no longer one world, but only "mine", to the point that many are no longer viewed as people with inalienable dignity, but simply become "those there" . Anew appears »the temptation to build a culture of walls, to raise walls, walls in the heart, walls on earth, in order to prevent this encounter with other cultures, with other people. And whoever builds a wall, whoever builds a wall, ends up becoming a slave within the walls that he built, without horizons. Because he lacks this otherness «. [26]

28. The loneliness, fear and insecurity of many people who feel abandoned by the system create fertile ground for the Mafia. This can prevail because she pretends to be the “protector” of the forgotten, often through various kinds of help, while pursuing her own criminal interests. There is a typical mafia-style pedagogy that creates bonds of dependence and subordination in a false community spirit, from which it is very difficult to free oneself.

Globalization and progress without a common course

29. With Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, we do not fail to recognize the positive advances in science, technology, medicine, industry and welfare, especially in developed countries. Nevertheless, »we emphasize that these great and valued historical advances are accompanied by a decline in ethics in international action and a weakening of spiritual values ​​and a sense of responsibility. All of this helps create a general feeling of frustration, loneliness, and despair. [...] Weapons and ammunition are being piled up in hot spots, and this happens in a global world characterized by uncertainty, disappointment, fear of the future and short-sighted economic interests. We further reaffirm that the violent political crises, injustice and the lack of equitable distribution of natural resources [...] are causing further casualties and deadly crises that affect several countries despite the fact that they rely on natural wealth and the resources of the younger generations can. The international silence in the face of these crises, which are causing millions of children to lose weight and starve to death from poverty and malnutrition, is unacceptable ”. [27] In front of this panorama, even if we are fascinated by progress in many areas, we cannot find a really human course.

30. In the present world, the sense of belonging to one human race is waning, while the dream of building justice and peace together seems like a utopia of other times. We see a comfortable, cold and widespread indifference reign supreme, daughter of a deep disenchantment hidden behind a deceptive illusion of believing that we are all powerful and forgetting that we are all in the same boat. This disappointment, leaving the great fraternal virtues behind, “leads to a kind of cynicism. This is the temptation we face when we take this path of disillusionment or disappointment. […] Isolation and being closed in on oneself or one's own interests are never the way to give hope again and bring about renewal, but closeness, the culture of encounter. Isolation: no; Proximity: yes. Culture of confrontation: no; Culture of encounter: yes «. [28]

31. In this world, which does not reveal a common course, one breathes an air in which »the distance between the obsession for one's own well-being and the shared happiness of mankind seems to be growing so much that one might suspect that meanwhile a a real "schism" is underway between the individual and the human community. [...] For it is one thing to feel compelled to live together and another thing to appreciate the wealth and beauty of the seeds of common life, which must be sought and cared for together «. [29] Technology is making constant progress, but “how nice it would be if the increase in innovations in science and technology were accompanied by ever greater equality and social inclusion! How nice it would be if, as we have made the discovery of new distant planets, we rediscovered the needs of our brother and sister who revolve around us ”. [30]

The pandemics and other scourges of history

32. A global tragedy like the Covid-19 pandemic really did raise awareness for a period of time that we were a global community in one boat, where the evil of one occupant is detrimental to all. We remembered that no one can save himself alone, that you only get help where others are present. So I said, “The storm exposes our vulnerabilities and exposes those false and unnecessary certainties that we have relied on in our plans, projects, habits and priorities. [...] With the storm, the stereotypical masks with which we disguise our "ego" in constant concern for our own image have also fallen; and once again that beneficial common belonging was revealed, from which we cannot escape, namely that we are all brothers and sisters «. [31]

33. The world was moving relentlessly towards an economy that sought to reduce "human costs" through technological advances, and some presumed to lead us to believe that market freedom would be enough to guarantee everything. But the harsh and unexpected blow of this runaway pandemic has forced us to think again of the people, of all, rather than the benefits of some. Today we see that “we nourished ourselves with dreams of grandeur and grandeur and ultimately only ate distraction, seclusion and loneliness; we have each other with Connections crammed full and lost the taste for brotherhood. We have been looking for quick and safe results and feel apprehensive with impatience and restlessness. As prisoners of virtuality, we have lost the taste and aroma of reality «. [32] The pain, insecurity, fear and awareness of our own limits that the pandemic has created appeal to us to rethink our lifestyles, our relationships, the organization of our society and, above all, the meaning of our existence.

34. When everything is connected, it is difficult for us to believe that this worldwide catastrophe is unrelated to how we face reality when we presume to be the absolute masters of our own life and of all that exists be. I am not saying that it is some kind of divine punishment. Nor can it be said that the damage to nature ultimately bears the bill for our attacks. It is reality itself that sighs and rebels. We remember the famous verses of Virgil, where the tears of things or of history are conjured up. [33]

35. But we quickly forget the lessons of history, the "teacher of life". [34] Once the health crisis is over, the worst reaction would be to lapse even more into feverish consumerism and new forms of selfish self-preservation. God grant that in the end there is no longer “the others”, but only “we”. That it wasn't the umpteenth serious event in history that we were unable to learn from. That we do not forget the elderly who died because there were no ventilators, partly as a result of health systems being dismantled from year to year. That such a great pain was not in vain, that we take a leap into a new way of life and we discover once and for all that we need one another and are in mutual debt. So humanity will rise again with all their faces, all their hands and all their voices, beyond the boundaries we have created.

36. If we fail to regain this shared passion for a cohesive and solidary community to which time, effort and goods are devoted, the worldwide illusion that deceives us will collapse devastatingly, leaving many to weariness and emptiness. Incidentally, one should not naively overlook the fact that "the obsession with a consumer-oriented lifestyle - especially when only a few can maintain it - can only trigger violence and mutual destruction". [35] The “save yourself who can” is quickly becoming “all against all” and that will be worse than a pandemic.

Without human dignity at the borders

37. There is a view in some populist political regimes as well as in liberal economic circles that the arrival of migrants must be avoided at all costs. At the same time, it is argued that aid to poor countries should be limited so that they bottom out and decide to take action to make effective savings. But one does not notice that such abstract, difficult-to-maintain assertions are faced with so many destroyed existences. Many are fleeing war, persecution and natural disasters. Others are rightly looking for “opportunities for themselves and their families. They dream of a better future and want to create the conditions for it to come true «. [36]

38. Unfortunately, some “are attracted to the culture of the West and set out with expectations, some of which are unrealistic and which are difficult to disappoint.Unscrupulous human traffickers, who are often associated with drug and arms cartels, take advantage of the weaknesses of migrants, who are repeatedly confronted with violence, human trafficking, psychological and physical abuse and unspeakable suffering on their way. "[37] Those who emigrate »experience the separation from their original environment and often also a cultural and religious uprooting. The break also affects the communities at the place of origin, which lose their strongest members with the greatest initiative, as well as families, especially if one or both parents emigrate and leave their children behind in their country of origin «. [38] Consequently, "the right not to emigrate - that is, to be able to stay in one's own country - must be affirmed". [39]

39. On top of that, »migration phenomena trigger alarms and fears in some countries of arrival, which are often fueled and abused for political purposes. In this way a xenophobic mentality spreads, one closes oneself off and withdraws into oneself «. [40] Migrants are not considered worthy enough to participate in social life like anyone else and it is forgotten that they have the same inherent dignity as all human beings. Hence, they must take their own salvation into their own hands. [41] No one will claim that they are not human, but in practice the choices and the way they are treated reflect the fact that they are less valued, less important and less human. It is unacceptable that Christians share this mentality and these attitudes by giving political preferences precedence over deep beliefs, namely the inalienable dignity of every person regardless of origin, skin color or religion as well as the highest law of brotherly love.

40. "Migrations will be a fundamental element of the future of the world". [42] Today, however, they are confronted "with the loss of that sense of fraternal responsibility on which civil society is based" [43]. Europe, for example, is in serious danger of going down this path. After all, »supported by its great cultural and religious heritage, it has the means […] to defend the centrality of the person and to find the right balance in its twofold moral duty, on the one hand to protect the rights of its own citizens and on the other to guarantee the care and reception of the migrants «. [44]

41. I can understand that some have doubts or fear about migrants. I see this as part of the natural instinct for self-defense. However, it is also true that a person and a people can only be fruitful if they know how to creatively integrate their openness to others into themselves. I invite you to go beyond these primary reactions, because »the problem is that these condition our way of thinking and acting to such an extent that they make us intolerant, closed and perhaps even - without our noticing it - racist. And so fear robs us of the desire and the ability to meet the other [...] «. [45]

The deception of communication

42. As closed and intolerant attitudes that isolate us from others increase, paradoxically, the distance decreases or disappears, leading to the abandonment of the right to privacy. Everything becomes a kind of drama that can be overheard and monitored. Life is under constant control. In digital communication you want to show everything, and every single person becomes an object that is spied on, exposed and dragged into the public eye in an anonymous way. The respect for the other crumbles, and in this way - especially when I suppress him, ignore him and keep him at a distance - I can penetrate his life to the extreme without any shame.

43. On the other hand, the destructive hate groups on the net - as some would have us believe - do not constitute a suitable platform for mutual help, but are pure associations against an enemy. Yes, "through digital media there is a risk that users will become dependent, isolate themselves and increasingly lose contact with concrete reality, which hinders the development of real interpersonal relationships." [46] It takes physical gestures, facial expressions, moments of silence, body language and even smell, trembling hands, blushing and sweating, because all of this speaks and belongs to human communication. The digital relationships that take the bother of cultivating friendship, stable reciprocity and also an understanding that matures over time, only give the appearance of sociability. They do not really form a "we", but usually hide and reinforce that individualism that is expressed in xenophobia and in disdain for the weak. Digital networking is not enough to build bridges; it is unable to unite humanity.

Aggression without shame

44. As people persist in their comfortable consumption habits, at the same time they form constantly consuming attachments. This encourages the upsurge of unusual forms of aggressiveness, from name-calling, abuse, insults, verbal slaps to the ruin of the other person. This happens with an abandon that does not occur in the same way in a face-to-face encounter, because otherwise we would end up tearing each other apart. Social aggression is spreading unprecedentedly on mobile devices and computers.

45. In this way it became possible for ideologies to drop all shame. What could not be said by anyone until a few years ago without endangering their reputation in the face of the whole world, can now be said in all rudeness by politicians without being prosecuted. It should not be overlooked »that gigantic economic interests are at work in the digital world, which exert subtle and invasive control and create mechanisms with which the conscience and democratic processes can be manipulated. Many platforms work in such a way that, in the end, often only like-minded people meet, making it difficult to deal with something different. These closed circles facilitate the spread of false information and news and stir up prejudice and hatred «. [47]

46. ​​We must admit that such fanaticism, which can lead to the destruction of others, also afflicts religious people - Christians not excluded - who "become part of networks of verbal violence via the Internet and the various forums and spaces of digital exchange [ can]. Even in Catholic media, borders can be crossed; Defamation and defamation often become commonplace, and all ethics and all respect for the reputation of others seem to be left out ". [48] But how do they contribute to the brotherhood that our common father presents to us?

Information without wisdom

47. True wisdom includes the encounter with reality. Today, however, you can manufacture, hide and change anything. This leads to the fact that one cannot bear the direct encounter with the limits of reality. As a result, you run a "pick" mechanism and make a habit of immediately separating what you like from what you don't, the attractive from the unpleasant. The same logic is used to choose the people with whom you want to share the world. People or situations that hurt our sensitivity or were uncomfortable are simply eliminated in the virtual networks today. In this way we form a virtual circle that isolates us from the environment in which we live.

48. Sitting down to listen to another is characteristic of a human encounter and is a paradigm of receptive attitude. In doing so, a person overcomes narcissism; he welcomes the other person, pays them attention and welcomes them into their own group. Nevertheless, »the world of today is mostly a deaf world [...]. Sometimes the speed of the modern world, the hustle and bustle, prevents us from listening carefully to another person. When he is in the middle of his request to speak, we interrupt him and want to answer him even though he has not finished speaking. One must not lose the ability to listen. [Saint Francis] listened to the voice of God, he listened to the voice of the poor, he listened to the voice of the sick, he heard the voice of nature. He turns all of that into a lifestyle. I hope that the seed of St. Francis will grow in all hearts ”. [49]

49. When there is no more silence and listening and everything is turned into quick and impatient typing and sending of messages, this basic structure of wise human communication is jeopardized. You create a new lifestyle in which you create what you want in front of you. In doing so, you exclude everything that you cannot control or recognize in a fleeting and instantaneous manner. Due to its inner logic, this dynamic prevents calm thinking, which could lead us to a humanly communicable wisdom.

50. We can seek the truth together in dialogue, in quiet conversation or in passionate discussion. This is a path that needs perseverance and is also characterized by silence and suffering. He is able to patiently bring together the vast experience of people and peoples. The overwhelming abundance of information that inundates us no longer means wisdom. Wisdom does not arise from impatient research on the Internet, nor from an accumulation of information whose truthfulness has not been proven. In this way one does not mature in the encounter with the truth. In the end, the conversations only revolve around the latest data and are simply a superficial torrent of words. But one does not pay close attention to the essence of life and does not penetrate to it, one does not recognize what is essential in order to give meaning to existence. In this way, freedom becomes an illusion that is sold to us and that is confused with the freedom to surf in front of a screen. The problem is that a path of fraternity, both small and large, can only be followed by free spirits who are ready for real encounters.

Submission and self-contempt

51. Some economically successful countries are portrayed as cultural role models for the less developed countries instead of trying to see each country grow in its own style and develop its capabilities for renewal according to its own cultural values. This superficial and distressing notion leads to copying and buying rather than being creative, and gives rise to very low national self-esteem. The affluent strata of many poor countries, and sometimes those who have managed to get out of poverty, find an inability to accept their own situation and how it is developing. So they succumb to a contempt for their own cultural identity, as if it were the cause of all evils.

52. Destroying a person's self-esteem is an easy way to control them. Behind these tendencies, which aim at a homogenization of the world, power interests emerge, which benefit from the low self-esteem, while at the same time attempts are made via media and networks to create a new culture in the service of the more powerful. This is taken advantage of by unscrupulous financial speculation and exploitation where the poor are always the losers. On the other hand, ignoring a people's culture means that many political leaders are no longer able to carry out a high-performing project that can be freely taken over and sustained over time.

53. One forgets that “there is no worse alienation than experiencing, having no roots and not belonging to anyone. A country will only be fruitful to the extent that a people will bear fruit and create a future only to the extent that it creates relationships of togetherness among its members and ties for integration among the generations and its various communities; and how it breaks through the spirals that cloud the senses and so distance us more and more from one another «. [50]


54. Despite these dark shadows, which must not be ignored, I would like to give a voice to the many paths of hope on the following pages. For God continues to sow seeds of good among humanity. The most recent pandemic has allowed us to find and appreciate many companions who have reacted in situations of fear by giving up their lives. We can see that our lives are interwoven and that we have received help from simple people who have undoubtedly written an important page in our history: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaning staff, carers, transporters, law enforcement officers, volunteers, priests , Religious and many, yes, many others who have understood that no one can save himself alone. [51]

55. I invite hope. “It speaks to us of a thirst, a striving, a longing for abundance, for a successful life; of wanting to reach for great things, for what expands the heart and elevates the mind to sublime things like truth, goodness and beauty, justice and love. […] Hope is bold. She knows about personal comfort, looking beyond the small securities and compensations that narrow the horizon, in order to open up to great ideals that make life more beautiful and dignified «. [52] Let us move forward with hope!



56. Everything I mentioned in the previous chapter is more than a detached description of reality, because »The joy and hope, sadness and fear of people today, especially the poor and afflicted of all kinds, are also joy and hope, sorrow and fear of Christ's disciples. And there is nothing truly human that does not find an echo in their hearts ". [53] In order to find a light in the midst of the events we are living through, I would like to dedicate a chapter to a two thousand year old story of Jesus before I draft some guidelines. Even if this letter is addressed to all people of good will, beyond their religious convictions, the parable is expressed in a way that each of us can be addressed by it.

“At that time a lawyer stood up to try Jesus and asked him,“ Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life? ”Jesus said to him,“ What is written in the law? What are you reading? ”He replied:“ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, with all your strength and all your thinking, and your neighbor as yourself. ”Jesus said to him:“ You answered correctly. Act accordingly and you will live! ”The teacher of the law wanted to justify himself and said to Jesus:“ And who is my neighbor? ”To which Jesus answered him:“ A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and was attacked by robbers. They plundered him and struck him down; then they went away and left him half dead. By chance a priest came down the same path; he saw it and passed by. Likewise, a Levite came to the place; he saw it and passed by. But a Samaritan who was on the way came to him; Seeing him and having pity, he went to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them. Then he put him on his own mount, took him to an inn, and looked after him. And the next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the landlord and said: Take care of him, and if you need more for him, I'll pay you when I come back. Which of these three do you think became the next to him who was attacked by the robbers? "The teacher of the law answered:" He who acted mercifully on him. "Then Jesus said to him:" Then go and do the same! "" (Lk 10,25-37).

The background

57. This parable has an ancient background. Shortly after the story of the creation of the world and man, the Bible shows the challenge of our interpersonal relationships. Cain removes his brother Abel, and then the question of God rings out: "Where is Abel, your brother?" (gene 4.9). The answer is the same as we often give it: "Am I my brother's keeper?" (ibid.).In asking, God questions any kind of determinism or fatalism that tries to justify indifference as the only possible answer. Instead, the Lord enables us to create a different culture that directs us towards overcoming hostility and caring for one another.

58. The book of Job takes the fact that we have a common Creator as the basis for some general rights: "Didn't he who made me in the womb make him, did not one shape us in the womb?" (31, p. 15). Many centuries later, St. Irenaeus expressed this with the image of the melody: “Whoever loves the truth must not be misled by the difference in the individual tones and accept several artists and creators, one of them the high tones, the other the low ones and yet another would have contributed the middle, but it was one and the same, for the demonstration of the whole work and wisdom, justice, goodness and grace ". [54]

59. In the Jewish tradition the imperative to love and care for the other seems to be limited to the relations between the members of the same people. The old commandment "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev 19:18) was usually understood in relation to compatriots. But especially in Judaism, which developed outside the land of Israel, the borders began to widen. It became clear that one must not do something to the other that one does not want it to be done to oneself (cf. Tob 4.15). The sage Hillel (1st century BC) said in this context: "This is the law and the prophets, everything else is only an explanation". [55] The desire to imitate the divine attitude led to the overcoming of the tendency to limit oneself only to the neighbor: "The mercy of a person goes to his neighbor, but the mercy of the Lord goes to all living beings" (Sir 18,13).

60. Hillel's commandment finds positive expression in the New Testament: “Whatever you want people to do to you, do it for them too! In this consists the law and the prophets "(Mt 7.12). This call is universal, it seeks to encompass everyone just because of their human nature; for the Almighty, Heavenly Father "makes his sun rise on the evil and the good" (Mt 5.45). And consequently it is demanded: "Be merciful as your Father is also merciful!"Lk 6,36).

61. The motivation to widen the heart so that it does not exclude the stranger can already be found in the oldest texts of the Bible. It can be traced back to the constant memory of the Jewish people that they lived as a stranger in Egypt:

»You shall not take advantage of or exploit a stranger, for you yourself were strangers in the land of Egypt« (Ex 22,20).

»You shouldn't exploit a stranger. You know how a stranger feels; for you yourself were strangers in the land of Egypt« (Ex 23,9).

»If a stranger lives with you in your country, you should not oppress him. The stranger who stays with you should be regarded as a native to you and you should love him as yourself; for you yourself were strangers in Egypt« (Lev 19,33-34).

»When you have harvested the grapes in your vineyard, you should not take any gleanings. It should belong to strangers, orphans and widows. Remember: You were a slave in Egypt« (Dtn 24,21-22).

In the New Testament there is an emphatic call to brotherly or fraternal love:

»For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself!« (Gal 5,14).

»Whoever loves his brother stays in the light and there is no offense in him. But whoever hates his brother is in the dark« (1 Joh 2,10-11).

»We know that we passed from death into life because we love the brothers. He who does not love remains in death« (1 Joh 3,14).

»He who does not love his brother whom he sees cannot love God whom he does not see« (1 Joh 4,20).

62. This invitation to love could also be misunderstood. It is no coincidence that St. Paul exhorted his disciples to love one another "and for all" in the face of the temptation of the early churches to form closed and isolated groups (1 Thess 3.12) to practice; and in John's church it was demanded that the brothers be welcomed, "even [the] strangers" (3 Joh 5). This context helps to understand the value of Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan: For love it is irrelevant whether the injured brother comes from here or from there. For it is “love that breaks the chains, that isolate and divide us by building bridges; Love that enables us to form a big family in which we all feel at home [...]; Love that tastes of compassion and dignity «. [56]

The abandoned

63. Jesus tells how a wounded man was lying on the ground by the roadside because he was attacked. Several people passed him and did not stop. They were people with important positions in society, but who did not have a love for the common good in their hearts. They were unable to spare a few minutes to help the injured person, or at least to seek help. One of them stopped, gave him his presence, looked after him with his own hands, paid out of his own pocket and looked after him. Above all, he gave him something that we skimp on in these hectic times: he gave him his time. Surely he had his program for that day, according to his needs, his tasks or his wishes. But he has been able to put everything aside in the face of this wounded man, and without knowing him he has found him worthy to give him his time.

64. Who do you identify with? This question is tough, straightforward, and crucial. Which one of them do you resemble? We must recognize the temptation around us to ignore others, especially the weakest. Put it this way, we have made progress in many ways, but we are illiterate when it comes to accompanying, caring for and supporting the most frail and vulnerable in our developed societies. We have got used to looking the other way, passing by, ignoring the situations as long as they do not affect us directly.

65. A person is ambushed on the street and many run away as if they hadn't seen anything. Often there are people who hit someone in their car and flee. They are only concerned with avoiding problems; they are not interested in whether a person dies through their fault. But these are signs of a widespread lifestyle that manifests itself in different, perhaps more subtle, ways. Also, since we are all very focused on our own needs, it is a nuisance to see someone suffer; it bothers us because we don't want to waste time on other people's problems. These are symptoms of a sick society that is trying to turn its back on pain in its life.

66. It is better not to fall into this misery. Let us consider the model of the good Samaritan. This text invites us to revive our vocation as citizens of our country and of the whole world, as builders of a new social bond. It is an ever new call, although it is inscribed in our being as a fundamental law: that society sets out to strive for the common good and, based on this goal, its political and social order, its network of relationships and its plan for people again and again newly designed. With his gestures, the Good Samaritan showed that "the existence of each of us is linked to that of the others: life is not a passing time, but a time of encounter". [57]

67. This parable is an instructive picture, capable of highlighting the fundamental option we must choose in order to renew this world we are suffering from. In the face of so much suffering and wounds, the only way out is to become like the good Samaritan. Any other decision leads to the side of the robbers or those who pass by without feeling sorry for the pain of the injured person lying on the street. The parable shows us the initiatives that can be used to renew a community, starting with men and women who care for the fragility of others. They do not allow a society characterized by exclusion to be established, but rather they come close to fallen people, raise them up and help them to run so that the good comes to all. At the same time, the parable points to certain behaviors of people who only look at themselves and do not care about the indispensable requirements of human reality.

68. The narrative - let us put it clearly - does not provide a doctrine of abstract ideals and is not limited to the functionality of a socio-ethical morality. It shows us an essential characteristic of human existence that is often forgotten: We are created for the fullness that can only be achieved through love. Living indifferent to pain is not a possible option; we cannot allow someone to remain "on the edge of life". We must be so outraged that we lose our calm and are troubled by human suffering. That is dignity.

A story that repeats itself

69. This story is simple and linear, but it contains all the dynamics of the internal struggle that accompanies the unfolding of our identity in every existence on the way to the realization of human fraternity. Once on the way, we inevitably encounter injured people. Today there are more and more injured people. The inclusion or exclusion of people suffering along the way determines all economic, political, social or religious projects. Every day we are faced with the choice of being good Samaritans or indifferent passers-by who pass by in a distant manner. And when we look to the entirety of our history and the whole world, we are or have been like these figures: we all have something of the injured person, something of the robbers, something of those who pass by, and something of the merciful Samaritan.

70. It is interesting how the differences between the forms of the narrative are completely transformed in the face of the agonizing expression of the fallen and humiliated man. There is no longer any distinction between the inhabitant of Judea and that of Samaria, there are neither priests nor traders; there are simply two kinds of people: those who care for the sufferer and those who avoid them; those who stoop down when they see the fallen human being, and those who look away and quicken their pace. Indeed, our various masks, our etiquette, our disguises are falling: it is the moment of truth. Do we bend down to touch and heal other people's wounds? Do we bend down to carry each other on our shoulders? This is the current challenge that we must not fear. In the moments of crisis, we are faced with an oppressive alternative, so to speak: Anyone who is not a robber at this moment or who walks by at a distance is either injured or has someone on their shoulders.

71. The story of the Good Samaritan repeats itself: It is becoming increasingly clear that social and political carelessness has turned many places in the world into desolate streets, where internal and international disputes and occasional looting leave many outcasts on the roadside. In his parable, Jesus does not present any alternative paths, such as: What would have happened to this seriously injured person or his helper if anger or desire for revenge had found room in their hearts? Jesus trusts in the better side of the human spirit and with the parable encourages him to hold on to love, to reintegrate those who suffer, and to build a society worthy of that name.

The people

72. The parable begins with the robbers. The starting point that Jesus chooses is an attack that has already occurred. He does not make us complain about the past for long; he does not direct our gaze to the robbers. We know you. We have seen the dark shadows of neglect, the use of force due to shabby power interests, greed and conflict grow in the world. The question could be: do we leave the injured person lying around to get to safety or to pursue the robbers? In the face of the injured, can we justify our irreconcilable divisions, our cruel indifference, our internal arguments?

73. Next, the parable clearly makes us look at those who pass by. This dangerous indifference to not stopping - more or less innocent - is the fruit of disdain or distressing absent-mindedness, and makes the priest and Levite no less sad reflections of that separation from reality. There are many ways of passing that complement each other. One is to withdraw to yourself, not to care about others, to be indifferent. Another way would be to just look elsewhere. As for this last way of passing, there is, in some countries, or in certain areas thereof, a disdain for the poor and their culture. You look at other countries as if a project imported from there should take their place. This can explain the indifference of some, for those who could touch their hearts with their requests simply do not exist for them. You are outside of your horizon of interest.

74. There is one peculiarity of those who pass by that we must not overlook: They were religious people. Even more, they were dedicated to worship: a priest and a Levite. This is worth a special note: it indicates that believing in and worshiping God is no guarantee that one will live as God pleases. A believer may not be faithful in everything that faith itself requires, but can still feel close to God and consider himself more worthy than the others. On the other hand, there are ways of living faith in such a way that it leads to an opening of the heart to others, and this is a guarantee of a genuine opening to God. Saint John Chrysostom expressed this challenge for Christians with great clarity: “Do you want to honor the body of Christ? Then do not overlook the fact that this body is naked. Do not honor the Lord in the house of the church with silk robes while you overlook him outside, where he suffers from cold and nakedness ". [58] Paradoxically, those who believe they disbelieve can sometimes do the will of God better than those who believe.

75. The "muggers" usually have as secret allies those who "walk down the street and look to the other side." The circle closes between those who exploit and deceive society in order to plunder it, and those who believe that they can preserve the purity of their decisive function, but at the same time live from this system and its resources. It is sad hypocrisy when impunity for crime, the use of institutions for personal or corporate gain, and other evils that we cannot eradicate are accompanied by a permanent disqualification of everything, with the constant sowing of suspicion and perplexity. The illusion of “everything goes wrong” corresponds to “no one can fix it” and “what can I do?” In this way one nourishes disillusionment and hopelessness, and this neither strengthens solidarity nor generosity. If you discourage a people, then a true vicious circle closes: This is how the invisible dictatorship of the actual hidden interests works, which dominate the resources as well as determine the formation of opinions and thinking.

76. Finally, let's look at the injured person. Sometimes we feel like him, badly injured and lying on the ground on the side of the road. We also feel abandoned by our powerless, ill-equipped institutions, which sometimes serve the interests of a few, inside or outside. Because »in globalized society there is an elegant style of turning away that is currently practiced: under the guise of political correctness or ideological fads, one looks at the sufferer without touching him; it will be broadcast live on television. Apparently tolerant language full of euphemisms is even used «. [59]

Start all over again

77. Every day offers us a new opportunity, is a new stage. We cannot expect everything from those who rule us; that would be infantile. We have opportunities for shared responsibility that allow us to initiate and bring about new processes and changes.We must play an active part in rebuilding and supporting the wounded society. Today we have a great opportunity to express our brotherhood; to show that we are also good Samaritans who take the pain of failure instead of increasing hatred and resentment. Like the passing traveler in our history, we only need to have the altruistic desire to be plain and simple people and to work consistently and tirelessly to ensure that everyone is included and integrated and that those who have fallen are raised up again; even if we sometimes fail and are forced to act according to the logic of the violent, who are concerned only with their own advancement and spread confusion and lies. May others keep thinking of politics or economics for their power games. Let's keep what's good alive and put ourselves at the disposal of what's good.

78. We can start from below, with one cause and fight for what is very concrete and obvious, and go on to the last corner of our own country and the whole world - with the same care with which the traveler from Samaria takes everybody individual wound of the injured person accepted. Let us look for others and take the reality assigned to us into our hands, without fear of pain or inability, because there is hidden all the good that God has sown in the human heart. Difficulties that seem overwhelming are opportunities for growth, not an excuse for a crippling sadness that invites you to give up. But let's not work alone and individually. The Samaritan was looking for a host who could take care of that person; we are also called to invite others and to meet in a “we” that is stronger than the sum of the small individuals. Let us remember that "the whole is more than the parts and is also more than their simple sum". [60] Let us renounce narrow-mindedness, the displeasure of sterile partiality and endless confrontations. Let’s stop hiding the pain of loss and let’s take on our offenses, our cowardice and our lies. Healing reconciliation allows us to be resurrected and to forget the fear of ourselves and of others.

79. The Samaritan left without expecting recognition or thanks. His devotion to serving brought him great peace with God and himself and was therefore an inner obligation to him. We all have a responsibility to the wounded, that is, to our own people and to all peoples of the earth. Let us take care of the fragility of every man, woman, child and elderly person with this solidarity and attentive attitude of closeness of the good Samaritan.

The next one without limits

80. Jesus chose this parable in response to the question: Who is my neighbor? The word “neighbor” used to designate in the society of Jesus the one who was very close, yes, closest to one. This was understood to mean that the help was aimed primarily at those who belonged to their own group, the same ethnic group. For some Jews at that time, a Samaritan was to be regarded as a despicable, unclean person. Therefore he was not one of the neighbors to be given help. The Jew Jesus turns this view completely on its head: He does not call us to ask who they are who are close to us, but to draw closer to ourselves, to become our neighbors.

81. The point is to stand by the person in need without looking to see if they belong to my circles. In the case mentioned, it is the Samaritan who is responsible for the injured Jew become the next is. In order to get closer to him and to be with him, he has overcome all cultural and historical barriers. The conclusion of Jesus is an invitation: "Then go and do the same!" (Lk 10.37). That is, he asks us to put aside any difference and stand by everyone in the face of suffering. So I no longer say that I have “neighbors” whom I have to help, but that I feel called to become a neighbor to the others.

82. The problem is that Jesus makes it clear that the injured was a Jew - a resident of Judea - while the one who stopped and helped him was a Samaritan - a resident of Samaria. This detail is of enormous importance when thinking about a love that is open to all. The Samaritans lived in an area where pagan rites also took place. That made them unclean, despicable, dangerous to the Jews. Indeed, an ancient Hebrew text mentioning hated nations even refers to Samaria as "no people" (Sir 50.25) and adds: They are "the foolish people who dwell in Shechem" (v. 26).

83. This explains why a Samaritan woman, when Jesus asks her something to drink, answers so vehemently: "How can you, as a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for something to drink?"Joh 4.9). For all those who were looking for a pretext to discredit Jesus, this was a very good target, as they saw him as "possessed by a demon" and as a "Samaritan" (Joh 8.48). That is why this benevolent encounter between a Samaritan and a Jew is a strong provocation that opposes any ideological manipulation so that we can expand our circle and give our ability to love a universal dimension that is able to overcome all prejudices, historical and cultural obstacles as well as petty interests to overcome.

The call of the stranger

84. Finally, I recall that in another passage of the Gospel Jesus said: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25.35). Jesus could say these words because he had an open heart that embraced the afflictions of others. St. Paul exhorted: "Rejoice with the happy and weep with the weeping!"Rom 12.15). When the heart adopts such an attitude, it is able to identify with the other without paying attention to where one was born or where he came from. When one enters this dynamic, he ultimately experiences that the others are “of the same flesh” (cf. Isa 58.7) are.

85. For Christians, the words of Jesus have another, a transcendent dimension. The consequence of this is to recognize Christ himself in every abandoned and excluded brother and in every sister who is rejected or lonely (cf. Mt 25.40.45). Indeed, belief provides important motivations for appreciating the other; for whoever believes can recognize that God loves every person with an infinite love and that he "thereby gives him infinite dignity". [61] In addition, we believe that Christ shed his blood for everyone and for each individual and that no one is excluded from his all-embracing love for him. When we go to the ultimate source, which is the innermost life of God, we encounter a communion of three persons, origin and perfect model of every communal life. Theology continues to be enriched by continual reflection on this great truth.

86. I sometimes saddened the fact that, despite such motivations, it took the Church so long to emphatically condemn slavery and various forms of violence. With the advancement of spirituality and theology, we have no more excuses today. Even so, there are still those who feel that their beliefs encourage them, or at least allow them to support various forms of narrow-minded and violent nationalisms, xenophobic attitudes, contempt, and even mistreatment of people who are different. Faith, along with its inherent humanity, must keep a critical sense of these tendencies alive and help to react quickly when they begin to establish themselves. It is therefore important that catechesis and preaching incorporate in a more direct and clear way the social meaning of existence, the fraternal dimension of spirituality, the conviction of the inalienable dignity of every person and the motivations for loving and accepting all.



87. A person can only develop, realize himself and find fulfillment in "the sincere devotion of himself". [62] Only in the encounter with the other can he fully recognize his own truth: "I do not really communicate with myself, if not to the extent that I communicate with the other". [63] Therefore, no one can experience the value of life without love for specific fellow human beings. Herein lies a secret of real human existence, for “life exists where there are ties, fellowship, brotherhood; and it is a life stronger than death when built on true relationships and bonds of fidelity. On the other hand, there is no life where one claims to belong only to oneself and to live as islands: in these attitudes death prevails «. [64]


88. From within each heart love creates connections and expands existence as it leads the person out of himself and towards the other. [65] We are made for love, and in each of us there is "what one might call the law of ecstasy [...]: the lover steps out of himself in order to find a fuller existence in another" [66 ] Therefore, "man must in any case manage to jump off himself". [67]

89. On the other hand, my life cannot be limited to my relationships within a small group or my family, because without a broader network of relationships it is not possible to understand oneself. It's not just about my current relationships, but also about the social fabric that was there before me and that has shaped me in the course of my life. A relationship with someone I value doesn't mean that that person lives solely because of their relationship with me, nor does it mean that I live solely because of my relationship with that person. Healthy and real relationships open us up to others who make us grow and enrich. Today the noblest social ethos easily disappears behind an egotistical familiarity that only gives the appearance of intensive relationships. However, genuine love that helps us grow and the noblest forms of friendship reside in hearts that can be perfected. Partnerships or friendships are designed to open the heart to the environment and to enable us to step out of ourselves in order to accept everyone. Exclusive groups and self-centered couples who define themselves as “we” in contrast to the rest of the world are usually refined forms of egoism and pure isolation.

90. It is no coincidence that many small population groups who have survived in desert areas have developed a generous welcome culture for foreigners passing through, and thus set an example of the sacred duty of hospitality. This practice was also followed by the medieval monastic communities, as can be seen from the Rule of St. Benedict. Although this could disturb the order and the silence in the monasteries, Benedict demanded that the poor and strangers should be welcomed "with zeal and concern" [68]. Hospitality is a concrete way of not doing without this challenge and this gift, which represents an encounter with people who do not belong to your own environment. These hospitable people realized that all the values ​​they cherished necessarily went hand in hand with this ability to transcend oneself through an openness to others.

The unique value of love

91. People can develop certain attitudes that represent moral values: bravery, sobriety, diligence, and other virtues. But in order to properly guide the practical expressions of the various moral virtues, one must also consider the extent to which they create a dynamic of openness and unity with other people. One such dynamic is the love of neighbor that God pours into people. Otherwise, we may appear virtuous without those virtues being able to build a community life. That is why St. Thomas Aquinas said - quoting St. Augustine - that the moderation of the misers is not virtuous. [69] In other words, St. Bonaventure declared that the other virtues without charity, strictly speaking, do not fulfill the commandments "as God intended". [70]

92. The spiritual shape of human life is shaped by love, which "becomes the yardstick for the final decision about the value or worthlessness of a human life". [71]