March 20.  Damian, a political analyst was invited to address the groups about the internal conflicts, factions and injustices around the long outstanding issue of corruption.  When elections are on the agenda people have a need to understand what is going on behind the scenes in their own town, country, region and the world. 

He noted that Fratelli Tutti almost addresses the same situation as the Old Testament prophets faced and it seems that nothing has changed, we go through cycles of growth and regression, although psychologically and sociologically surely we have advanced vastly, along with technological advancements.

Pope Francis: “War, terrorist attacks, racial or religious persecution and many other affronts to human dignity are judged differently depending on how convenient it proves for certain, primarily economic interests.   What is true as long as it is convenient for someone in power stops being true once it becomes inconvenient. These situations of violence, sad to say, have become so common as to constitute a real “third world war” fought piececemeal. FT25. 

We see protests including pro-democracy protests all over the world.  Some economic rules have proved effective for growth but not for integral human development, in practice human rights are not equal for all. What does this tell us about the equality of rights grounded in innate human dignity?   (FT 21-22)   A concept of popular and national unity influenced by various ideologies is creating new forms of selfishness and a loss of the social sense under the guise of defending national interests. (FT 11). 

Damian added still quoting from Pope Francis,  “In St Francis day it was hardly any different. ‘In the world of his day bristling with watchtowers and defensive walls, cities were a theatre of internal wars between powerful families, and classes of people, nobility, merchants while poverty was spreading through the countryside.’” FT4   Francis was inspired to risk travelling to Damietta, in Egypt, during the crusades in a peace-making mission. He told his brothers his desire was to meet the leaders of the Islamic world.  He and brother Illuminato were captured by the Muslims and brought to Sultan Malek al-Kamil who was intrigued by these two unassuming Christians who didn’t even carry a weapon.  They spent two weeks of amazing, eye-opening spiritual discussion together.

Pope Francis in 2019, himself, met in a quest for “fraternity” with the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb in Abu Dhabi where they signed a declaration and recently, in February 2021, again they celebrated the 1st International Day of Human Fraternity which had been approved by the United Nations. Antonio Guterres received a special award    

Scripture. “I was like a lamb led to the slaughter, I did not know it was against me they devised schemes. But O Lord, who judge righteously, who test the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause. Jer 11:18-20.  St Francis expressed the essence of a fraternal openness that allows us to acknowledge, appreciate and love each person, regardless of where he or she was born or lives. FT 1.

Reflect, share, act, pray.  Can interreligious dialogue about common and shared values lead to a greater sense of human fraternity and acceptance? What can our particular religious family do?