In the vision of Pope Francis, fraternity – being brothers and sisters – has a transcendental value and a programmatic character. If you “pass by,” taking it for granted, or if you use the term lightly, almost as if saying “brothers and sisters” were enough to avoid the temptations of indifference, bureaucracy or authoritarianism, it means that fraternity’s wealth and ability to generate positive dynamics have not yet matured sufficiently.
I deliberately use the evangelical expression of the parable of the Good Samaritan “to pass by,” because, if the excuses of the priest and the Levite for not aiding the wounded traveler were formal – avoid contamination! – it should be remembered that the law, while prohibiting, for example, the “touching” of a corpse, did make exceptions for close relatives. Insisting on fraternity expressed in concrete gestures and pursuing our engagement with this concept allows us to overcome false dichotomies.
Fraternity is the first theme to which Pope Francis referred on the day of his election, when he bowed his head before the people and, defining the bishop-people relationship as “the journey of fraternity,” expressed this desire: “Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great spirit of fraternity.”