Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, last week offered reflections of Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship.”
The Oct. 26 virtual presentation, “Go and Do The Same,” was delivered to bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians from the Archdiocese of New York and from the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre.
Cardinal Dolan offered opening and closing prayers and remarks.
Archbishop Caccia explained that Pope Francis, in his encyclical released Oct. 4, wanted to describe and help bring forth “a new vision of fraternity and social friendship” that will respond to a situation in which so many are forgotten, ignored or even eliminated.
“He said, with hope, that one of the goods that he believes God has been bringing out of the disruption and death of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a renewed sense that we’re all in this together,” Archbishop Caccia said.
To Archbishop Caccia, “the heart of the entire encyclical” is Chapter 2, where Pope Francis discusses Jesus’ renowned Parable of the Good Samaritan “and applies the lessons not just to our own individual hearts but to international relations in terms of how we care for those who are suffering.”
Archbishop Caccia added that throughout Pope Francis’ papacy, the pontiff has urged the Church to “go out” into the peripheries of existence and to care for those who are left behind, “suffering, even dying without anyone much noticing or caring.”
“He has sought to awaken the Church to our vocation and mission as our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers. He wants to help us all to see that, just like Cain was responsible for his brother Abel, so we are all responsible for our brothers and sisters in need across the world. Their innocent blood shed, their sufferings, cry out to heaven, and God has given us ears to hear their cries, too.”
The encyclical’s eight chapters, Archbishop Caccia explained, “begin with the state of the world, then with a beautiful reflection on the parable of the Good Samaritan.”
In Chapter Three, “Pope Francis tries to sketch a vision based on the lessons Christ teaches us in the parable and, in Chapter Four, apply those lessons to those people—migrants and refugees—who are making a journey, like the man mugged on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, sometimes suffering similar attacks.”
In the fifth chapter, the Holy Father describes his vision for a better kind of politics, one in which a particular form of charity is at work, at the local, national, regional and international levels.
In Chapter Six, Pope Francis talks about dialogue and friendship and the culture of encounter.
In Chapter Seven, he talks about healing the wounds of those who have suffered tremendous injustice and sketches the path of peace in moving away from a mentality of retaliation to one of justice, memory forgiveness and reconciliation.
“And in the final Chapter, the Holy Father talks specifically about the role of religions and religious leaders in setting an example not just for adherents but for the whole world of the type of fraternity and social friendship the world needs.”
A question and answer session followed. In opening remarks, Italian Archbishop Caccia, who was appointed to his current post last November and presented his credentials at U.N. headquarters in Manhattan in January, told the clergy gathered via last week’s Zoom conference that it was “a real joy” to be with them.
Cardinal Dolan, in concluding remarks, thanked Archbishop Caccia. “We wanted a very crisp and clear and clean summary of the Holy Father’s encyclical and we were not disappointed.
“I find myself thanking God,” the cardinal said, “that if you represent the intentions of the Holy Father to the United Nations as well as you did the intentions of the Holy Father in this encyclical to all of us, you are a true gift, and you continue your beautiful service to the Church universal as a loyal servant to the successor of Peter.”
“We’re very grateful that you’re with us here in New York,” the cardinal said, adding, “we look forward to your company in the future.”