“No one can face life in isolation” and the time has truly come to “dream as a single human family” of “brothers and sisters all”. We are all members of a common human family and life on Earth. We are brothers and sisters, children of one Creator, all in the same boat.
Ethical living requires deeds made tangible in a “better kind of politics,” not subordinated to financial interests, but to serving the common good, placing the dignity of every human being at the center and assuring work for everyone, so that each one can develop his or her own abilities. In the first chapter, “Dark clouds over a closed world”, the Pope reflects on the many distortions of our era: the manipulation and deformation of concepts such as democracy, freedom, justice; the loss of the meaning of the social community and history; selfishness and indifference toward the common good; a prevalence of a market logic based on profit and the culture of waste; unemployment, racism, poverty.
Love builds bridges and “we were made for love”; we must recognize Christ in the face of every excluded person (85). There are two ‘tools’ in particular to achieve this type of society: benevolence, or truly wanting good for the other (112), and solidarity, caring for fragility and expressed in service to people. The right to live with dignity cannot be denied to anyone, and since rights have no borders, no one can remain excluded, regardless of where they are born (121). The right to private property will be secondary to the principal of the universal destination of created goods (120).
With regard to migration: With their lives “at stake” (37), fleeing from war, persecution, natural catastrophes, unscrupulous trafficking, ripped from their communities of origin, migrants are to be welcomed, protected, supported, and integrated. We need to respect the right to seek a better life elsewhere. In receiving countries, the right balance will be between the protection of citizens’ rights and the guarantee of welcome and assistance for migrants (38-40). We should increase and simplify the granting of visas; open humanitarian corridors; assure lodging, security and essential services; offer opportunities for employment and training; favor family reunification; protect minors; guarantee religious freedom and promote social inclusion. The Pope also calls for establishing in society the concept of “full citizenship”, and to reject the discriminatory use of the term “minorities” (129-131). In all we should encourage thinking as “human family” (139-141). Others who are different from us are a gift and an enrichment for all, Francis writes, because differences represent an opportunity for growth (133-135). A healthy culture is a welcoming culture, able to open up to others without renouncing itself, offering them something authentic. As in a polyhedron, the whole is more than its single parts, but the value of each one of them is respected (145-146).
The theme of the fifth chapter is “A better kind of politics”, a most valuable form of charity because it is placed at the service of the common good (180) and recognizes the importance of people. Dignified lives and work should be available through all, whom we should promote in the perspective of solidarity and subsidiarity (187). The task of politics is to find a solution to all that attacks fundamental human rights. Food, for example, is “an inalienable right” (188-189). Francis underscores that the politics we need says ‘no’ to corruption, to inefficiency, to the malign use of power, to the lack of respect for laws (177). It is a politics centered on human dignity and not subjected to finance because “the marketplace, by itself, cannot resolve every problem”: the “havoc” wreaked by financial speculation has demonstrated this (168). He lifts up life as the “art of encounter” with everyone, including with the world’s peripheries and with original peoples, saying each of us can learn something from others. No one is useless and no one is expendable (215). True dialogue, indeed, is what allows one to respect the point of view of others, their legitimate interests and, above all, the truth of human dignity. A kind person, writes Francis, creates a healthy coexistence and opens paths in places where exasperation burns bridges (222-224).
The Pope reflects on the value and promotion of peace in the seventh chapter, “Paths of renewed encounter”. He underlines that peace is connected to truth, justice and mercy. It is “proactive” and aims at forming a society based on generosity and service to others, and on the pursuit of reconciliation and mutual development (227-229). In a society, everyone must feel “at home”, the Pope writes. Thus, peace is an “art” that involves and regards everyone and in which each one must do his or her part. Peace-building is “an open-ended endeavor, a never-ending task”, and thus it is important to place dignity and the common good at the center of all activity (230-232)
We must love everyone, without exception, but loving an oppressor means helping him to change and not allowing him to continue oppressing his neighbor. One who suffers an injustice must vigorously defend his rights in order to safeguard his dignity, a gift of God (241- 242). Forgiveness does not mean impunity, but justice and remembrance, to renounce the destructive power of evil.
Part of the seventh chapter focuses on war: “a constant threat” and “the negation of all rights”, “a failure of politics and of humanity”. We must vehemently reaffirm: “Never again war!” We are experiencing a “world war fought piecemeal”, because all conflicts are interconnected. The Pope expresses just as clear a position with regard to the death penalty: it is inadmissible and must be abolished worldwide, because “not even a murderer loses his personal dignity.
In the eighth and final chapter, the Pontiff focuses on “Religions at the service of fraternity in our world” and again emphasizes that terrorism and violence have no basis in religious convictions, but rather in their deformities and “policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression”. Attention to the common good and concern for integral human development, humanity and all that is human, concerns the Church (276-278).