“In today’s world, the sense of belonging to a single human family is fading, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems an outdated utopia,” he wrote. “What reigns instead is a cool, comfortable and globalized indifference, born of deep disillusionment concealed behind a deceptive illusion: thinking that we are all-powerful, while failing to realize that we are all in the same boat.”
In the second chapter, Pope Francis reflected on the Parable of the Good Samaritan, presenting the Samaritan who helped a traveler who had been left for dead as a model of human fraternity, in contrast to others who simply passed by.
“We need to acknowledge that we are constantly tempted to ignore others, especially the weak,” he said. “Let us admit that, for all the progress we have made, we are still ‘illiterate’ when it comes to accompanying, caring for and supporting the most frail and vulnerable members of our developed societies.”
He noted that devout men failed to help the traveler, saying: “Paradoxically, those who claim to be unbelievers can sometimes put God’s will into practice better than believers.”
He urged readers to follow the teaching of Jesus by not setting limits on who they regard as their neighbors. He added that he sometimes wondered why “it took so long for the Church unequivocally to condemn slavery and various forms of violence.”
“Today, with our developed spirituality and theology, we have no excuses. Still, there are those who appear to feel encouraged or at least permitted by their faith to support varieties of narrow and violent nationalism, xenophobia and contempt, and even the mistreatment of those who are different,” he wrote.
In chapter three, the pope stressed the importance of a fundamental attitude of love in the face of poverty and inequality.
He said that “the spiritual stature of a person’s life is measured by love,” but “some believers think that it consists in the imposition of their own ideologies upon everyone else, or in a violent defense of the truth, or in impressive demonstrations of strength.”
He continued: “All of us, as believers, need to recognize that love takes first place: love must never be put at risk, and the greatest danger lies in failing to love.”
The pope underlined that racism remained a threat, comparing it to a virus that “quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting.” He also said that “hidden exiles,” such as people with disabilities, should be encouraged to participate fully in society.
He argued that individualism “does not make us more free, more equal, more fraternal.” What is needed, he said, is a “universal love” that promotes the dignity of every human being.
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This love should be applied also to migrants, the pope wrote, quoting the U.S. bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts,” which said there are fundamental rights that “precede any society because they flow from the dignity granted to each person as created by God.”
In the fourth chapter, devoted to the theme of migration, the pope appealed to countries to “welcome, protect, promote, and integrate” newcomers. He urged governments to take a series of “indispensable steps” to help refugees. These included “increasing and simplifying the granting of visas,” as well as “freedom of movement and the possibility of employment,” and “supporting the reuniting of families.”
But even these steps would prove insufficient, he said, if the international community failed to develop “a form of global governance with regard to movements of migration.”
In the fifth chapter, the pope called for states to adopt policies that promoted the common good, critiquing both an “unhealthy” populism and an excessively individualistic liberalism. He said that populism could conceal a lack of concern for the vulnerable, while liberalism could be used to serve the economic interests of the powerful.
He also criticized the conviction that the market can resolve every problem, calling it the “dogma of neoliberal faith.”
The pope lamented that the world had failed to seize the opportunity presented by the financial crisis of 2007-2008 to develop new ethical principles governing the economy. What followed instead was “greater individualism, less integration and increased freedom for the truly powerful, who always find a way to escape unscathed.”