“Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Thursday, 22 October 2020
It is worth observing that by answering as he does the lawyer both subverts and affirms what he has held all his life. He affirms the intention, the spirit of the Law – love of God and neighbour – but subverts the letter of the Law that, in its detail, undermined what it required in the case of the Good Samaritan.
Francis is well aware of this paradox in Fratelli Tutti. He is deeply self-critical of a church that hides behind its doctrines to promote injustice – or withdraws into its structures and gives up on engaging with society. Looking towards a world after Covid-19, he envisions a different kind of church, one that engages openly with others – including non-Christians – to see a society that reflects the call to love God and neighbour.
To this end, he explicit calls for ‘political love’, a love that
“demands a decisive commitment to devising effective means to this end. Any effort along these lines becomes a noble exercise of charity. For whereas individuals can help others in need, when they join together in initiating social processes of fraternity and justice for all, they enter the “field of charity at its most vast, namely political charity”. This entails working for a social and political order whose soul is social charity. Once more, I appeal for a renewed appreciation of politics as “a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good.” (Fratelli Tutti. no. 180).
I suspect quite a few politicians – they of loud, uncouth mouths and usually outrageous hairdos in particular – may feel the Pope is picking on them. To that, I say: pick on!