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A delegation in Audience with the Holy Father

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  • Below is the speech the Holy Father gave to the delegation he received in Audience Saturday, May 11, on the occasion of the World Meeting on Human Fraternity #BeHuman.

    “Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

    I welcome you and thank you for your presence here. You have come from many parts of the world to take part in the World Meeting on Human Fraternity. I thank the Fratelli Tutti Foundation, which seeks to promote the principles set forth in the Encyclical, “in order to encourage initiatives linked to spirituality, art, education and dialogue with the world, around Saint Peter’s Basilica and in the embrace of its colonnade” (Chirograph, 8 December 2021).

    In a world facing the fires of conflict, you have come together with the intention of reaffirming your “no” to war and “yes” to peace, bearing witness to the humanity that unites us and makes us recognize ourselves as brothers and sisters, in the mutual gift of our respective cultural differences.

    In this regard, I am reminded of a famous address of Martin Luther King, Jr., who said: “We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers” (Nobel Lecture, 11 December 1964).  Indeed, that is true. Let us ask ourselves, then: how can we, concretely, return to building up the art of a coexistence that is truly humane?

    I would like to go back to the key disposition proposed in Fratelli tutti: compassion. In the Gospel (cf. 10:25-37), Jesus tells the parable of a Samaritan who, moved by compassion, approaches a Jew whom robbers have left half-dead by the side of the road. Let us look at these two men. Their cultures were at odds, their histories different and contentious, but one became a brother to the other the moment he allowed himself to be guided by the compassion he felt for him. We could say that he allowed himself to be drawn to Jesus present in that wounded man. It is like the poet who, in one of his works, has Saint Francis of Assisi say: “The Lord is where your brothers are” (É. LECLERC, La sapienza di un povero).

    In the afternoon you will meet at twelve points in Vatican City and Rome, to manifest your goal of creating an outgoing movement of fraternity. In this context, the working groups that have been preparing over the past few months will present some proposals to civil society, centred on the dignity of the human person, in order to craft sound policies, based on the principle of fraternity, which “in turn enhances freedom and equality” (Fratelli tutti, 103). I am pleased by this choice and encourage you to go forward in your work of silent sowing. From it can come a Charter of Humanity, which includes, along with rights, the behaviours and practical reasons for what makes us more human.

    I urge you not to be discouraged, because “persistent and courageous dialogue does not make headlines, but quietly helps the world to live much better than we imagine” (Frantelli tutti, 198).

    In particular, I would like to thank the group of distinguished Nobel Laureates present, both for the Declaration on Human Fraternity drafted on 10 June last year and for your commitment this year in reconstructing a grammar of humanity, on which to base choices and behaviour. I encourage you to move forward, to build up this spirituality of fraternity and to promote, through diplomatic activity, the role of multilateral bodies.

    Dear brothers and sisters, war is a deception – war is always a defeat –, as is the idea of international security based on the deterrent of fear. This too is a deception. To ensure lasting peace, we must return to a recognition of our common humanity and place fraternity at the centre of peoples’ lives. Only in this way will we succeed in developing a model of coexistence capable of giving the human family a future. Political peace needs peace of hearts, so that people can come together in the confidence that life always overcomes all forms of death.

    Dear friends, in greeting you I am thinking also of the embrace that will be shared this evening, as it was last year, by so many young people. Let us look at them and learn from them, for, as the Gospel teaches us, unless “you become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).  Let us all make this embrace a commitment in our lives and a prophetic gesture of love.

    Thank you for what you do! I am close to you and I ask you to pray for me. Now, all together and in silence, let us ask and receive the blessing of God.”