8. Fratelli Tutti Audiobook - Chapter 3, Part 2
Vatican Radio presents
The Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis
ON FRATERNITY AND SOCIAL FRIENDSHIP
Chapter Three, Part Two
A UNIVERSAL LOVE THAT PROMOTES PERSONS
106. Social friendship and universal fraternity necessarily call for an acknowledgement of the worth of every human person, always and everywhere. If each individual is of such great worth, it must be stated clearly and firmly that “the mere fact that some people are born in places with fewer resources or less development does not justify the fact that they are living with less dignity”. This is a basic principle of social life that tends to be ignored in a variety of ways by those who sense that it does not fit into their worldview or serve their purposes.
107. Every human being has the right to live with dignity and to develop integrally; this fundamental right cannot be denied by any country. People have this right even if they are unproductive, or were born with or developed limitations. This does not detract from their great dignity as human persons, a dignity based not on circumstances but on the intrinsic worth of their being. Unless this basic principle is upheld, there will be no future either for fraternity or for the survival of humanity.
108. Some societies accept this principle in part. They agree that opportunities should be available to everyone, but then go on to say that everything depends on the individual. From this skewed perspective, it would be pointless “to favour an investment in efforts to help the slow, the weak or the less talented to find opportunities in life”. Investments in assistance to the vulnerable could prove unprofitable; they might make things less efficient. No. What we need in fact are states and civil institutions that are present and active, that look beyond the free and efficient working of certain economic, political or ideological systems, and are primarily concerned with individuals and the common good.
109. Some people are born into economically stable families, receive a fine education, grow up well nourished, or naturally possess great talent. They will certainly not need a proactive state; they need only claim their freedom. Yet the same rule clearly does not apply to a disabled person, to someone born in dire poverty, to those lacking a good education and with little access to adequate health care. If a society is governed primarily by the criteria of market freedom and efficiency, there is no place for such persons, and fraternity will remain just another vague ideal.
110. Indeed, “to claim economic freedom while real conditions bar many people from actual access to it, and while possibilities for employment continue to shrink, is to practise doublespeak”. Words like freedom, democracy or fraternity prove meaningless, for the fact is that “only when our economic and social system no longer produces even a single victim, a single person cast aside, will we be able to celebrate the feast of universal fraternity”. A truly human and fraternal society will be capable of ensuring in an efficient and stable way that each of its members is accompanied at every stage of life. Not only by providing for their basic needs, but by enabling them to give the best of themselves, even though their performance may be less than optimum, their pace slow or their efficiency limited.
111. The human person, with his or her inalienable rights, is by nature open to relationship. Implanted deep within us is the call to transcend ourselves through an encounter with others. For this reason, “care must be taken not to fall into certain errors which can arise from a misunderstanding of the concept of human rights and from its misuse. Today there is a tendency to claim ever broader individual – I am tempted to say individualistic – rights. Underlying this is a conception of the human person as detached from all social and anthropological contexts, as if the person were a “monad” (monás), increasingly unconcerned with others… Unless the rights of each individual are harmoniously ordered to the greater good, those rights will end up being considered limitless and consequently will become a source of conflicts and violence”.
PROMOTING THE MORAL GOOD
112. Nor can we fail to mention that seeking and pursuing the good of others and of the entire human family also implies helping individuals and societies to mature in the moral values that foster integral human development. The New Testament describes one fruit of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22) as agathosyne; the Greek word expresses attachment to the good, pursuit of the good. Even more, it suggests a striving for excellence and what is best for others, their growth in maturity and health, the cultivation of values and not simply material wellbeing. A similar expression exists in Latin: benevolentia. This is an attitude that “wills the good” of others; it bespeaks a yearning for goodness, an inclination towards all that is fine and excellent, a desire to fill the lives of others with what is beautiful, sublime and edifying.
113. Here, regrettably, I feel bound to reiterate that “we have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good. Once the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests”. Let us return to promoting the good, for ourselves and for the whole human family, and thus advance together towards an authentic and integral growth. Every society needs to ensure that values are passed on; otherwise, what is handed down are selfishness, violence, corruption in its various forms, indifference and, ultimately, a life closed to transcendence and entrenched in individual interests.
The value of solidarity
114. I would like especially to mention solidarity, which, “as a moral virtue and social attitude born of personal conversion, calls for commitment on the part of those responsible for education and formation. I think first of families, called to a primary and vital mission of education. Families are the first place where the values of love and fraternity, togetherness and sharing, concern and care for others are lived out and handed on. They are also the privileged milieu for transmitting the faith, beginning with those first simple gestures of devotion which mothers teach their children. Teachers, who have the challenging task of training children and youth in schools or other settings, should be conscious that their responsibility extends also to the moral, spiritual and social aspects of life. The values of freedom, mutual respect and solidarity can be handed on from a tender age… Communicators also have a responsibility for education and formation, especially nowadays, when the means of information and communication are so widespread”.
115. At a time when everything seems to disintegrate and lose consistency, it is good for us to appeal to the “solidity” born of the consciousness that we are responsible for the fragility of others as we strive to build a common future. Solidarity finds concrete expression in service, which can take a variety of forms in an effort to care for others. And service in great part means “caring for vulnerability, for the vulnerable members of our families, our society, our people”. In offering such service, individuals learn to “set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, before the concrete gaze of those who are most vulnerable… Service always looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, ‘suffers’ that closeness and tries to help them. Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people”.
116. The needy generally “practise the special solidarity that exists among those who are poor and suffering, and which our civilization seems to have forgotten or would prefer in fact to forget. Solidarity is a word that is not always well received; in certain situations, it has become a dirty word, a word that dare not be said. Solidarity means much more than engaging in sporadic acts of generosity. It means thinking and acting in terms of community. It means that the lives of all are prior to the appropriation of goods by a few. It also means combatting the structural causes of poverty, inequality, the lack of work, land and housing, the denial of social and labour rights. It means confronting the destructive effects of the empire of money… Solidarity, understood in its most profound meaning, is a way of making history, and this is what popular movements are doing”.
117. When we speak of the need to care for our common home, our planet, we appeal to that spark of universal consciousness and mutual concern that may still be present in people’s hearts. Those who enjoy a surplus of water yet choose to conserve it for the sake of the greater human family have attained a moral stature that allows them to look beyond themselves and the group to which they belong. How marvellously human! The same attitude is demanded if we are to recognize the rights of all people, even those born beyond our own borders.
RE-ENVISAGING THE SOCIAL ROLE OF PROPERTY
118. The world exists for everyone, because all of us were born with the same dignity. Differences of colour, religion, talent, place of birth or residence, and so many others, cannot be used to justify the privileges of some over the rights of all. As a community, we have an obligation to ensure that every person lives with dignity and has sufficient opportunities for his or her integral development.
119. In the first Christian centuries, a number of thinkers developed a universal vision in their reflections on the common destination of created goods. This led them to realize that if one person lacks what is necessary to live with dignity, it is because another person is detaining it. Saint John Chrysostom summarizes it in this way: “Not to share our wealth with the poor is to rob them and take away their livelihood. The riches we possess are not our own, but theirs as well”. In the words of Saint Gregory the Great, “When we provide the needy with their basic needs, we are giving them what belongs to them, not to us”.
120. Once more, I would like to echo a statement of Saint John Paul II whose forcefulness has perhaps been insufficiently recognized: “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone”. For my part, I would observe that “the Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property”. The principle of the common use of created goods is the “first principle of the whole ethical and social order”; it is a natural and inherent right that takes priority over others. All other rights having to do with the goods necessary for the integral fulfilment of persons, including that of private property or any other type of property, should – in the words of Saint Paul VI – “in no way hinder [this right], but should actively facilitate its implementation”. The right to private property can only be considered a secondary natural right, derived from the principle of the universal destination of created goods. This has concrete consequences that ought to be reflected in the workings of society. Yet it often happens that secondary rights displace primary and overriding rights, in practice making them irrelevant.
 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 190: AAS 105 (2013), 1100.
 Ibid., 209: AAS 105 (2013), 1107.
 Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 129: AAS 107 (2015), 899.
 Message for the “Economy of Francesco” Event (1 May 2019): L’Osservatore Romano, 12 May 2019, 8.
 Address to the European Parliament, Strasbourg (25 November 2014): AAS 106 (2014), 997.
86] Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 229: AAS 107 (2015), 937.
 Message for the 2016 World Day of Peace (8 December 2015), 6: AAS 108 (2016), 57-58.
 Solidity is etymologically related to “solidarity”. Solidarity, in the ethical-political meaning that it has taken on in the last two centuries, results in a secure and firm social compact.
 Homily, Havana, Cuba (20 September 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 21-22 September 2015, 8.
 Address to Participants in the Meeting of Popular Movements (28 October 2014): AAS 106 (2014), 851-852.
 Cf. Saint Basil, Homilia XXI, Quod rebus mundanis adhaerendum non sit, 3.5: PG 31, 545-549; Regulae brevius tractatae, 92: PG 31, 1145-1148; Saint peter chrysologus, Sermo 123: PL 52, 536-540; Saint Ambrose, De Nabuthe, 27.52: PL 14, 738ff.; Saint Augustine, In Iohannis Evangelium, 6, 25: PL 35, 1436ff.
 De Lazaro Concio, II, 6: PG 48, 992D.
 Regula Pastoralis, III, 21: PL 77, 87.
 Saint John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus (1 May 1991), 31: AAS 83 (1991), 831.
 Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 93: AAS 107 (2015), 884.
 Saint John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens (14 September 1981), 19: AAS 73 (1981), 626.
 Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 172.
 Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio (26 March 1967): AAS 59 (1967), 268.