Reception of the encyclical Fratres Omnes
This October 2020 will start, for the Church and the world, with a new encyclical entitled Fratres Omnes. It will be like a ray of sunshine in the midst of the fog of uncertainty that surrounds our planet. Contrary to what happens during lockdown, when everything comes to a standstill or decreases, the Holy Spirit is bringing about his powerful activity through the Pope's magisterium.
How to receive Fratres Omnes?
As women of faith, we are called to sentire cum Ecclesia - feel with the Church - as St. Ignatius of Loyola used to say. Let us prepare ourselves to receive this new piece of Christian doctrine with our best inner disposition, thirsting for this update of the teachings of Jesus for the time in which we live, in order to be carriers of that "Living Water" to the world.
The title of the forthcoming encyclical has originated a controversy in the media around the world: it is said that “All Brothers” would exclude women. A few days ago, I was interviewed as President of WUCWO on this subject. I share with you some of my answers.
It should be remembered that when we say “the Good Shepherd leads his sheep,” we think of sheep as being both male and female (please note this problem appears in different ways in different languages). We use just one word. We simply say “the Good Shepherd guides his sheep,” and by this we include all the people in that flock. Something similar happens with the title chosen by Pope Francis, “All Brothers”: it does not refer exclusively to men, but includes women as well, all the brothers and all the sisters.
It is true that the values and disvalues of a culture are both reflected in and shaped by language. And that is why it is so important to try to eradicate sexist and clericalist language and the consequent attitudes. The Holy Father himself does not cease to castigate such attitudes within the Church. However, in this case, the restrictive interpretation of the title of the next encyclical, before it is made public, is inappropriate.
Moreover, I believe that the interpretation of a papal document and its title should be made in the light of recent and widely known background. I propose that we interpret it in the light of the first words that Francis told to the whole world on the day of his election: “Brothers and sisters, good evening.” The Pope repeats this way of addressing his audience every Sunday when he prays the Angelus in St. Peter's Square. He also substantiates it with his teaching and gestures. This is the summary of the interview I gave.
On October 1st we celebrate St. Therese of Lisieux. She described her vocation as follows: “In the heart of the Church I will be love.” May we, women of WUCWO who seek to be a feminine face of the Church, be granted the grace to identify ourselves, at this historic moment, with the vocation of Therese of the Child Jesus, to assimilate the encyclical and to incarnate it from the heart of the Church.
Let us pray for the encyclical to be well received inside and outside the Church. Let us prepare ourselves to spend our time reading and reflecting on this new gift that will allow us to deepen our formation, to continue on the path to holiness and to collaborate in the transformation of our Earth into a Common Home, where everyone - men and women - is welcomed and loved.
With the usual affection,
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO President General