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Pope Francis establishes Fratelli tutti Foundation

Pope Francis establishes the Fratelli tutti Vatican Foundation within the Fabbrica di San Pietro. The new institution aims at investing “in cultural and spiritual formation through events, experiences, pathways and spiritual exercises,” in order to promote the principles of the Pope’s 2020 encyclical.

By Salvatore Cernuzio

“To support and design pathways of art and faith… to invest in cultural and spiritual formation through events, experiences, pathways and spiritual exercises… to promote dialogue with cultures and other religions on the themes of the Pontiff's latest encyclicals, in order to build a ‘social alliance.’”: These are the aims of the new Fratelli tutti  Foundation, established by Pope Francis with a chirograph (a papal decree) signed on 8 December 2021.

Chaired by Cardinal Mauro Gambetti

The new foundation “of religion and worship” — as the Pope underlines — was conceived within the Fabbrica di San Pietro, whose mission it is intended to support, with the collaboration of members of the lay faithful.

The Foundation will include a single head and a general secretary, with a Board of Directors initially chaired by Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Vicar of Vatican City and President of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, from whom the proposal originated. The cardinal had previously announced the impending creation of the Foundation, centred on three key words “to build the future together”: dialogue, encounter, and sharing — that is, the very principles set out in the Pope’s encyclical Fratelli tutti, published on 3 October 2020.

Detail from the interior of St Peter's Basilica
Detail from the interior of St Peter's Basilica

The Pope’s satisfaction

“I have learned with satisfaction that the Fabbrica di San Pietro, together with some of the faithful, wish to join together to establish a Foundation of Religion and Worship intended to collaborate in spreading the principles set forth in my recent encyclical, Fratelli tutti, in order to encourage around St. Peter’s Basilica and in the embrace of its colonnade, initiatives linked to spirituality, art, education, and dialogue with the world,” the Pope writes in his chirograph. The Pope explains that the institution will be governed by canonical laws, “in particular by the special norms that regulate the Bodies of the Holy See, by the civil norms in force in the Vatican City State, and by the attached Statute which I simultaneously approve.”

Art, training, and spirituality initiatives

Within the Statutes approved by Pope Francis, Article 3 sets out the aims of the new institution: “The Foundation aims at solidarity, formation, and dissemination of art, in particular sacred art; it promotes synodality, the culture of fraternity and dialogue.” A statement from the Holy See Press Office explains that, to this end, the Fratelli Tutti Foundation “promotes holistic formation, attentive to the spiritual and cultural levels, to the community dimension and to the commitment to service in the world.”

It will also promote “the experience of pilgrims through spiritual, cultural and artistic itineraries in Saint Peter’s Basilica and in the spaces made available for the Fabric of Saint Peter,” and organize “itineraries, events and experiences to foster fraternity and social friendship between Churches, different religions and between believers and non-believers.”

Culture of peace and fraternal humanism

Among the aims of the “Fratelli tutti” Foundation is the promotion of the “culture of peace in the various spheres of life, from the personal to the social and political dimensions,” as well as the organisation of “‘new encounters’ nourished by social dialogue, by a sense of social forgiveness, by the purification of memory, by the promotion of restorative justice as an alternative to social revenge.” Numerous initiatives are also planned, aimed at encouraging “the development of fraternal humanism, through the promotion of the principles of freedom, equality and fraternity, conditions for building a ‘universal love’ that recognises and safeguards the dignity of persons.” In the same vein, “projects for the care of creation, the protection of environmental resources and international solidarity and social responsibility” will likewise be encouraged.

Building bridges

Finally, in the light of the principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church, the Foundation will promote “social alliance, responsible entrepreneurship, social investment, humane and sustainable forms of work; integral ecology, sustainable development, ecological transition, health and scientific and technological research.”

And by virtue of the Pope’s mandate “to build bridges” — crystallised in the Fratelli tutti —the Foundation also intends to support “responsible communication,” characterised by truthfulness of sources, credibility and reliability.

The Vatican communiqué also stresses that “in the symbolic embrace of the colonnade of Saint Peter’s Basilica,” the Foundation is intended to care for “the weakest people, the outsider and the foreigner, the different and the marginalised, and the cultural and social frontiers in order to re-read the suffering of the world and offer solutions in the light of the Gospel and the papal Magisterium.”

The Foundation’s governing bodies are the General Council, made up of members of the Vatican Dicasteries concerned with the Foundation’s mission; and the Sustainability Committee, in which the Foundation’s benefactors are represented.

The dome of St Peter's
The dome of St Peter's
16 December 2021, 11:13