By Father Luis Granados

In his new Encyclical, Pope Francis invites us to reflect on our universal fraternity. Its title – Fratelli Tutti – comes from an advice of St. Francis of Assisi: “Let us all, brothers (Fratelli Tutti), consider the Good Shepherd who to save His sheep bore the suffering of the Cross” (Admonitions, 6.1). Transformed by Christ, St. Francis was filled with a love that “transcends the barriers of geography and distance” (n. 1). He felt himself a brother to the sun, the sea and the wind, yet he knew that he was even closer to those of his own flesh (n. 2), especially the most vulnerable.

The Holy Father opens his encyclical recalling a unique episode in the life of St. Francis: his visit to the Sultan in Egypt. Risking his life and ready to become a martyr, he embraced the many hardships of this journey. When he finally encountered the Sultan and proclaimed the Gospel of Christ, he “did not wage a war of words” but spread the love of God (n.4). The interest of the medieval saint was the Sultan’s conversion and baptism. When “among the Saracenes and other nonbelievers,” St. Francis and his disciples were to consider two ways: the first was not to engage in disputes, but to be subject to every creature for God’s sake, and to acknowledge that they themselves are Christians. The second was to proclaim the word of God so that the unbelievers might believe, be baptized and become Christians (Earlier Rule of the Friars