Included in my itinerary this spring was a visit to Rome. While there, I was to have visited the several cathedrals (St John Lateran, Sts Sergius and Bacchus, the Military Ordinariate St Catherine of Siena and the Opus Dei headquarters of Santa Maria della Pace) as well as a tour of the Anglican Center of Rome, the Anglican Church's liaison office to the Vatican. There I was to meet (and possibly have tea) with Archbishop Ian Ernest while discussing my passion in visiting and photographing cathedrals around the world. (Blog link)
As a result of my contact with the ACR, I've been on their electronic mailing list, which has included invitations to join their Tuesday Eucharist service, now through the Internet due to the Covid19 pandemic. (I'll admit that arising for a Florida predawn meeting will be tough, but I'll try.)
Yesterday, the Center shared two letters regarding the recently released Encyclical letter of Pope Francis, encouraging its reading and counsel. I've received their kind permission to include those letters in this blog. In addition, I found a free download of "Fratelli tutti" for my eReader, and have just started reading it. I immediately was thrown back to my reading of
"Canticle of the Sun", a small book I'd been given by a Franciscan friar heading to Rome with whom I shared a row on a transatlantic flight many years ago: he pressed this writing of Francis of Assisi on me, getting a promise from me to read it, which I did a few years later.
The message I received 12 October 2020 from Rome:
Dear Friends of ACR,
Greetings from Rome!
A week ago, His Holiness Pope Francis released his Encyclical letter, “Fratelli tutti” which is indeed a precious document as it urges us to be attentive to a world which deserves to be cared for by men and women of this age. As I read through it, I was struck by the prophetic discourse which stresses on the need for each person to accept the other. There is a continuous insistence on the value and dignity of each person. He proposes a new ethical policy on human solidarity and calls on us to be the Good Samaritan who is able to be the companion of men and women of this generation. This letter denounces contemporary barbarity which marginalizes respectful and dignified behaviour. There is a call from this letter to bring about a new way of life that will instill in all of us a spirit of Hope.
I am therefore pleased to send an attachment of the Pope’s Encyclical letter, “Fratelli tutti” and a commentary on the said letter from His Grace, the Most Reverend Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury. Both documents will help us to reflect on issues of great importance that have an impact on our daily living and they might offer to us, if we wish, opportunities to act as good stewards of the world which God loves.
As a place of encounter and dialogue, it is appropriate for the Anglican Centre in Rome to stimulate a discussion on the Encyclical letter and to create a platform for sharing of ideas that will be of benefit for ecumenical initiatives. May I therefore invite you to participate by sending in your comments and opinions.
Your comments will be posted on our Website and please forward them to the following email address: - email@example.com
The Most Reverent Archbishop Ian Ernest
In this Encyclical, Pope Francis sets out a clear, exciting and ambitious vision of the role of human friendship and solidarity as the basis for a better future world order.
Throughout this work, he interweaves the themes of the individual and the social, and stresses their necessary interdependence, rejecting the extremes both of individualism and of social collectivism as contrary to the true dignity and rights of all human beings. His is a true and clearly Christian voice of radical moderation, neither captured by the individualism of the culture nor a prisoner of the dreams of social collectivism.
He sets out a vision of healthy human, societal and international relationships based on concern for the other, on listening, on sharing and on openness to new ideas and experiences, rejecting the increasing tendency for individuals and societies to retreat into bunkers of the familiar and the safe. It is a vision embedded in a deep Christology, reflecting the nature of the God who “so loved the world that he gave his only son” (John 3:16).
This is a book both thoughtful and joyful. It takes us at times to the worst of human behaviour but it offers us ways to forge a better world. Climate change, charity both personal and national, migration, human trafficking and the dignity of work are all here, along with many other topics of equal significance and urgency. It paints a possible future of a world that is holistic, recognising human dignity and holding it together with divine creation and penetrated throughout by the God whose love is authentically shown in mutual generosity (I John 3:17).
This is a truly ecumenical document, in which Pope Francis cites not only Orthodox Patriarch Bartholemew but also Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He strikingly refers to his fruitful dialogue with Grand Iman Ahmad Al-Tayyeb to emphasise that the thrust of his argument, whilst rooted deeply in the Christian faith, is of universal force. He draws inspiration also from the writings of Mahatma Gandhi.
Whilst written from a profoundly, inspiringly Christian stance, Pope Francis explicitly sets out a vision to which non-believers can subscribe. One would have to be extraordinarily narrow-minded not to pay attention to his clarion call for action for purely sectarian or similar reasons.
This remarkable Pope has done the world another service by bringing together in one text such a wealth of insight into some of the most pressing issues of our time. It is a volume which will repay reading and re-reading. It is my earnest hope that it will be not only read but acted upon by those in power throughout the world.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury