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08.05.2021 01:08:05 5722x read.


(By Bro. Gasper Kalisto FIC).


From the time that Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, came out on 4th October 2020, several people have been writing their reflections based on it. Some people also have been proposing on how best they can implement the ideas that our Pope suggested in his encyclical. The Provincial Council of Brothers FIC (Malawi Province) thought it wise to organize a session for the brothers in the province on this encyclical. This exercise was meant to deepen our life in the teachings of the church, and to take part towards the implementation of the Pope’s message on fraternity and social friendship. It was to help us in purifying our prayer life, formation programme, involvement in pastoral life of the church, and our apostolates.

The session took place on 30th April 2021 at the Provincial House, Bethel Community. It was facilitated by Reverend Fr. Dr. Alfred Chaima, the Pastoral Secretary of Blantyre Archdiocese. In his presentation, he gave a brief introduction and overview of the encyclical. The introduction started with the realities of our daily life. Then, making judgments on the proposed arguments, and find a way to act positively on implementation of the ideas proposed by the Pope.

On the realities of our daily life, the overview of the first chapter of the encyclical: ‘Dark clouds over closed world’, the Pope proposes the consideration of certain trends that hinder development of universal fraternity. We see old conflicts re-surfacing between countries, lack of plans that benefits everyone, privacy is being lost through digital communication, the ceasing of historical consciousness and deliberate actions that only put few people in control of everyone. These issues make ‘plans for everyone’ to be madness today, when yet we need to think of ourselves as a family. A family living on a common home. The sense of belonging to one family is fading; instead we are promoting a cool, comfortable and globalized indifference.

Chapter 2 of the encyclical: ‘A stranger on the road’, brought the discussion to a biblical reflection. There is a stranger on the road, wounded and cast amid the dark clouds of a closed world. It is up to us whether to pass by, or to stop and be moved by pity to help him (the parable of the Good Samaritan – Lk. 10:25-37). Human beings develop and find fulfilment in the sincere gift of self to others. We should develop love for others. God is universal love, and since we are part of that love, and share it, we are called to universal fraternity, which is openness (Chapter 3: Envisaging and engendering an open world).

As brothers, fraternity and social friendship must start from within oneself to those people we live with in our communities. It should then be extended to our society, regions and provinces. We must have a sense of sharing cultural, economic and political neighborhood. We must promote shared identity. We should embrace the belief that we are either saved together or perish. We should value dialogue amongst us. Dialogue is respectful, strives for consensus, and seeks the truth. Dialogue opens up the way to a culture of encounter so that the encounter becomes a passion, a desire, and a way of life (Chapter 6: Dialogue and friendship in society). Dialogue among religions seeks to establish friendship, peace and harmony. Today’s tragedy is the desensitized human conscience, a distancing of religious values, prevailing individualism and materialistic philosophies. We believers are challenged to return to our sources in order to concentrate on what is essential – worship of God and love for our neighbor – lest some of our teachings, taken out of context, end up feeding forms of contempt, hatred, xenophobia or negation of others (Chapter 8: Religions at the service of fraternity in our world). There is need to cure our wounds and restore peace among us.

As religious, we are called to be true ‘people of dialogue’, to cooperate in building peace not as intermediaries but as authentic mediators (Chapter 8: Religions at the service of fraternity in our world – article 284). Our constitution tells us that dialogue, mutual contact and frank deliberations are essential for the unity, the upbuilding, and the functioning of our congregation. If we are to form a true community of brothers, our conversation will be marked with respect for one another, despite differences of opinion; by mutual love and continuous care for one another; by the privilege of sharing in each other’s apostolic motivation; and by concern for each other’s joys and worries (FIC Const. 41). After the session, we all gathered at the lounge and shared our meals and drinks.

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