[Check out my post on Where Peter Is. Here is a sample.]
I am a busy husband and dad with a demanding job, so reading a lengthy papal document is not the easiest thing to take the time to do, nor is it typically high on my list of things to do. That said, over the last week I read Pope Francis’s latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on human relationships, and I am glad that I did.
While there is certainly no obligation for Catholics to hang on every word the pope writes, there is a special teaching value in Pope Francis’s writings. Francis has an ability to address head-on what is important, worrying, and keeps people up at night—not only in the Vatican, but all around the world.
And what is important to Pope Francis seems to be what is important to me right now. The last seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been traumatic for people around the world. For many of us, this has been a time of uncertainty, disappointment, Zoom meetings, degrading political discourse, and social media rants. In the jarring words of Pope Francis,
“We fed ourselves on dreams of splendour and grandeur, and ended up consuming distraction, insularity and solitude. We gorged ourselves on networking, and lost the taste of fraternity. We looked for quick and safe results, only to find ourselves overwhelmed by impatience and anxiety. Prisoners of a virtual reality, we lost the taste and flavour of the truly real” (FT 33).
He is clearly tuned in to this world-wide anxiety, but rather than wallow in misery, Pope Francis invites us to press ahead and “take a step forward toward a new style of life.” (FT 35) Fratelli Tutti is a deep and meaningful document, but if you are busy, suspicious of Pope Francis, or not sure it is worth reading, I have some advice.