Letter from Fr. Carlos Luis Suárez Codorniú, Superior General,
on the occasion of the publication of Pope Francis' Encyclical “Fratelli tutti”.
Dear brothers and members of the Dehonian family,
On the occasion of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis gives us the new encyclical “Fratelli tutti”, which he signed yesterday at the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi. This new encyclical places fraternity and social friendship at the center.
The Covid-19 pandemic has burst into our personal, community and social lives and we are called upon to recognize ourselves as increasingly fragile brothers and sisters in the same boat: “in this our time […], we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. No one can face life in isolation […]. We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we help each other to keep looking ahead” (FT 8).
This new encyclical letter has a lot to say about our Dehonian life. Fr. Dehon’s faith experience was similar to that of St. Francis. They both understood that “God is love; whoever remains in love remains in God and God remains in him” (1Jn 4:16). This same experience of faith is also our experience of faith (cf. RL 9).
St. Francis sowed peace and walked alongside the poor, the abandoned, the sick, the discarded, the least. His heart was boundless, capable of going beyond the distances due to origin, nationality, color or religion (cf. FT, 2-3). Fr Dehon had at heart the “ministry to the lowly and the humble, of the workers and the poor” (RV 31) and committed himself to establishing the Reign of the Sacred Heart in souls and in societies. According to the signs of the times, we too “want to contribute to establishing the reign of justice and Christian charity in the world” (RL 32).
Fr. Dehon, commenting on this Gospel passage, wrote: “The Good Samaritan does not have the heart of a judge, but the heart of a father, a brother and a friend; and you know who the Good Samaritan is, it is Jesus” (La Couronne du Sacré Coeur, EXT 8035184/5).
But the experience of faith requires that we have a heart open to the world. In this sense the Gospel passage of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37) is a permanent call to live the social and political dimension of our faith. Pope Francis, commenting on this passage, writes: “Each day we have to decide whether to be good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders. And if we extend our gaze to the history of our own lives and that of the entire world, all of us are, or have been like each of the characters in the parable. All of us have in ourselves something of the wounded man, something of the robber, something of the passersby, and something of the good Samaritan” (FT 69).
We cannot remain indifferent to the pressing invitation that Pope Francis addresses to each of us. We are called to have the open heart of the Good Samaritan to face “numerous related issues […] forcing us to see things in a new light and to develop new responses” (FT 128): people migrating, humanitarian crises, the relationship between the East and West, globalization, social degradation, better politics, social dialogue, and the ecumenical and inter-religious journey.
May the reading and reflection of this new encyclical revive in each of us, in our communities and in our apostolate the spirit of the Good Samaritan, the sensitivity and social commitment of our founder in the service of God’s Kingdom.
In Corde Jesu
Fr. Carlos Luis Suárez Codorniú, SCJ