10. Fratelli Tutti Audiobook - Chapter 4, Part 1

Vatican Radio presents

Fratelli Tutti

The Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis


Chapter Four
A Heart Open to the Whole World

128. If the conviction that all human beings are brothers and sisters is not to remain an abstract idea but to find concrete embodiment, then numerous related issues emerge, forcing us to see things in a new light and to develop new responses.


129. Complex challenges arise when our neighbour happens to be an immigrant.[109] Ideally, unnecessary migration ought to be avoided; this entails creating in countries of origin the conditions needed for a dignified life and integral development. Yet until substantial progress is made in achieving this goal, we are obliged to respect the right of all individuals to find a place that meets their basic needs and those of their families, and where they can find personal fulfilment. Our response to the arrival of migrating persons can be summarized by four words: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. For “it is not a case of implementing welfare programmes from the top down, but rather of undertaking a journey together, through these four actions, in order to build cities and countries that, while preserving their respective cultural and religious identity, are open to differences and know how to promote them in the spirit of human fraternity”.[110]

130. This implies taking certain indispensable steps, especially in response to those who are fleeing grave humanitarian crises. As examples, we may cite: increasing and simplifying the granting of visas; adopting programmes of individual and community sponsorship; opening humanitarian corridors for the most vulnerable refugees; providing suitable and dignified housing; guaranteeing personal security and access to basic services; ensuring adequate consular assistance and the right to retain personal identity documents; equitable access to the justice system; the possibility of opening bank accounts and the guarantee of the minimum needed to survive; freedom of movement and the possibility of employment; protecting minors and ensuring their regular access to education; providing for programmes of temporary guardianship or shelter; guaranteeing religious freedom; promoting integration into society; supporting the reuniting of families; and preparing local communities for the process of integration.[111]

131. For those who are not recent arrivals and already participate in the fabric of society, it is important to apply the concept of “citizenship”, which “is based on the equality of rights and duties, under which all enjoy justice. It is therefore crucial to establish in our societies the concept of full citizenship and to reject the discriminatory use of the term minorities, which engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority. Its misuse paves the way for hostility and discord; it undoes any successes and takes away the religious and civil rights of some citizens who are thus discriminated against”.[112]

132. Even when they take such essential steps, states are not able, on their own, to implement adequate solutions, “since the consequences of the decisions made by each inevitably have repercussions on the entire international community”. As a result, “our response can only be the fruit of a common effort”[113] to develop a form of global governance with regard to movements of migration. Thus, there is “a need for mid-term and long-term planning which is not limited to emergency responses. Such planning should include effective assistance for integrating migrants in their receiving countries, while also promoting the development of their countries of origin through policies inspired by solidarity, yet not linking assistance to ideological strategies and practices alien or contrary to the cultures of the peoples being assisted”.[114]


133. The arrival of those who are different, coming from other ways of life and cultures, can be a gift, for “the stories of migrants are always stories of an encounter between individuals and between cultures. For the communities and societies to which they come, migrants bring an opportunity for enrichment and the integral human development of all”.[115] For this reason, “I especially urge young people not to play into the hands of those who would set them against other young people, newly arrived in their countries, and who would encourage them to view the latter as a threat, and not possessed of the same inalienable dignity as every other human being”.[116]

134. Indeed, when we open our hearts to those who are different, this enables them, while continuing to be themselves, to develop in new ways. The different cultures that have flourished over the centuries need to be preserved, lest our world be impoverished. At the same time, those cultures should be encouraged to be open to new experiences through their encounter with other realities, for the risk of succumbing to cultural sclerosis is always present. That is why “we need to communicate with each other, to discover the gifts of each person, to promote that which unites us, and to regard our differences as an opportunity to grow in mutual respect. Patience and trust are called for in such dialogue, permitting individuals, families and communities to hand on the values of their own culture and welcome the good that comes from others’ experiences”.[117]

135. Here I would mention some examples that I have used in the past. Latino culture is “a ferment of values and possibilities that can greatly enrich the United States”, for “intense immigration always ends up influencing and transforming the culture of a place… In Argentina, intense immigration from Italy has left a mark on the culture of the society, and the presence of some 200,000 Jews has a great effect on the cultural ‘style’ of Buenos Aires. Immigrants, if they are helped to integrate, are a blessing, a source of enrichment and new gift that encourages a society to grow”.[118]

136. On an even broader scale, Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and I have observed that “good relations between East and West are indisputably necessary for both. They must not be neglected, so that each can be enriched by the other’s culture through fruitful exchange and dialogue. The West can discover in the East remedies for those spiritual and religious maladies that are caused by a prevailing materialism. And the East can find in the West many elements that can help free it from weakness, division, conflict and scientific, technical and cultural decline. It is important to pay attention to religious, cultural and historical differences that are a vital component in shaping the character, culture and civilization of the East. It is likewise important to reinforce the bond of fundamental human rights in order to help ensure a dignified life for all the men and women of East and West, avoiding the politics of double standards”.[119]

A fruitful exchange

137. Mutual assistance between countries proves enriching for each. A country that moves forward while remaining solidly grounded in its original cultural substratum is a treasure for the whole of humanity. We need to develop the awareness that nowadays we are either all saved together or no one is saved. Poverty, decadence and suffering in one part of the earth are a silent breeding ground for problems that will end up affecting the entire planet. If we are troubled by the extinction of certain species, we should be all the more troubled that in some parts of our world individuals or peoples are prevented from developing their potential and beauty by poverty or other structural limitations. In the end, this will impoverish us all.

138. Although this has always been true, never has it been more evident than in our own day, when the world is interconnected by globalization. We need to attain a global juridical, political and economic order “which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity”.[120] Ultimately, this will benefit the entire world, since “development aid for poor countries” implies “creating wealth for all”.[121] From the standpoint of integral development, this presupposes “giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making”[122] and the capacity to “facilitate access to the international market on the part of countries suffering from poverty and underdevelopment”.[123]

A gratuitousness open to others

139. Even so, I do not wish to limit this presentation to a kind of utilitarian approach. There is always the factor of “gratuitousness”: the ability to do some things simply because they are good in themselves, without concern for personal gain or recompense. Gratuitousness makes it possible for us to welcome the stranger, even though this brings us no immediate tangible benefit. Some countries, though, presume to accept only scientists or investors.

140. Life without fraternal gratuitousness becomes a form of frenetic commerce, in which we are constantly weighing up what we give and what we get back in return. God, on the other hand, gives freely, to the point of helping even those who are unfaithful; he “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Mt 5:45). There is a reason why Jesus told us: “When you give alms, do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret” (Mt 6:3-4). We received life freely; we paid nothing for it. Consequently, all of us are able to give without expecting anything in return, to do good to others without demanding that they treat us well in return. As Jesus told his disciples: “Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give” (Mt 10:8).

141. The true worth of the different countries of our world is measured by their ability to think not simply as a country but also as part of the larger human family. This is seen especially in times of crisis. Narrow forms of nationalism are an extreme expression of an inability to grasp the meaning of this gratuitousness. They err in thinking that they can develop on their own, heedless of the ruin of others, that by closing their doors to others they will be better protected. Immigrants are seen as usurpers who have nothing to offer. This leads to the simplistic belief that the poor are dangerous and useless, while the powerful are generous benefactors. Only a social and political culture that readily and “gratuitously” welcomes others will have a future.


[109] Cf. CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES, A Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration: “Strangers No Longer Together on the Journey of Hope” (January 2003).
[110] General Audience (3 April 2019): L’Osservatore Romano, 4 April 2019, p. 8.
[111] Cf. Message for the 2018 World Day of Migrants and Refugees (14 January 2018): AAS 109 (2017), 918-923.
112] Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, Abu Dhabi (4 February 2019): L’Osservatore Romano, 4-5 February 2019, p. 7.
[113] Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 11 January 2016: AAS 108 (2016), 124.
[114] Ibid., 122.
[115] Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit (25 March 2019), 93.
[116] Ibid., 94.
[117] Address to Authorities, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (6 June 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 7 June 2015, p. 7.
[118] Latinoamérica. Conversaciones con Hernán Reyes Alcaide, ed. Planeta, Buenos Aires, 2017, 105.
[119] Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, Abu Dhabi (4 February 2019): L’Osservatore Romano, 4-5 February 2019, p. 7.
[120] BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 67: AAS 101 (2009), 700.
[121] Ibid., 60: AAS 101 (2009), 695.
[122] Ibid., 67: AAS 101 (2009), 700.
[123] PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 447.

03 October 2022