(Vatican News) Fratelli tutti is “a devastating challenge to our ecological, political, economic and social life”, but above all, it is the “proclamation of an ineradicable, joyful truth, presented as a well-spring for a fatigued world.”

This is according to Professor Anna Rowlands, a renowned political theologian and member of the panel that presented Pope Francis’ third Encyclical in the Vatican’s new Synod Hall on Sunday.

Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Christopher Wells, Professor Rowlands said Fratelli tutti, with its powerful social meditation on the Good Samaritan, who recognises love and attention as the preeminent law and model for creative social friendship, Is a call to everyone to take action.

“I think that the core of this document is a call for us to stop and find a way to look at the world in a different way,” Prof. Rowlands said.

A call for social action

Rowlands said the document contains a list of social actions, the first being the command that we “pay attention to the world around us, to what truly is.”

Pope Francis, she continued sees reality and tells us that the only true perception of that reality is through encounter with “the reality of all the people and of the created order.”

Church’s social teaching rooted in reality

Rowlands recalled that all the social teaching documents from 1891 onwards stem from a meditation by the respective Pope on the world, and on the action of the world.

Pope Francis, she added, is very clear that this encyclical was inspired by an interfaith dialogue and by visits and encounters he has had all over the world.

The call for a concrete response

In Fratelli tutti, Rowlands said, Pope Francis calls for a concrete response from all people of goodwill, regardless of their religious belonging. He does so, using the parable of the Good Samaritan, because it is “utterly concrete, utterly practical, utterly immediate and utterly devastating in terms of what it means for an individual.”

Social friendship

Finally, Rowlands reflected on the meaning for Pope Francis of social friendship.

She expressed her belief that according to his conception of universal fraternity that envisages a world in which we are all interconnected, brothers and sisters and children of the same God, and said that ‘social friendship’ is the concrete response to that realisation.

                                                                        Tej Francis

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