I would like to invite everyone to go beyond their groups of friends and build social friendship.
The Pope Video has just been published with the intention that Francis is entrusting to the entire Catholic Church through thePope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. In this month of July, the Holy Father calls us to become “architects of dialogue and friendship.”
“I would like to invite everyone to go beyond their groups of friends and build social friendship, which is so necessary for living together well,” the Pope says in the video.
We must flee from social enmity which only destroys, and leave “polarization” behind.
And this isn’t always easy, especially today when part of our politics, society, and media are bent on creating enemies so as to defeat them in a game of power.
In a world too characterized by “bubbles,” this month’s prayer intention is an invitation to pray and work for dialogue.
Francis asks that we pray to construct the common good with men and women who extend a hand to each other, and especially to always be at the side of the most impoverished and vulnerable.
Dialogue in a polarized world
Although in general we can say that, on a global level, the number of war deaths has been dropping since 1946, conflicts and violence on a societal level are more present than ever. Although at times it doesn’t manifest itself physically, we can observe a growing polarization that ends up contaminating many relationships.
The Pope already warned about this in 2016: “We see, for example, how quickly those among us with the status of a stranger, an immigrant, or a refugee, become a threat, take on the status of an enemy.” Since then he has been observing with concern how polarization and enmity were also a “virus” that was invading our ways of thinking, feeling and acting.
We need to “build social friendship, which is so necessary for living together well,” a friendship that can serve as a bridge to continue creating a culture of encounter, which will bring us closer, above all, to those who are on the peripheries, the most impoverished and vulnerable.
Dialogue to construct the common good
In his latest encyclical, Fratelli tutti (2020), the Pope dedicated the sixth chapter to “Dialogue and Friendship in Society”:
Authentic social dialogue involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view and to admit that it may include legitimate convictions and concerns. (FT 203)
In his intention for July, he reinforces this idea, reaffirming that dialogue is a great opportunity to see “reality in a new way, so we can live with passion the challenges we face in constructing the common good.”
Giving priority to dialogue means abandoning the logic of polarization and replacing it with respect, without wanting to destroy others. There can be richness in differences, but if there is no dialogue we can allow them to lead to hostility, threats and violence. “We come from distant lands; we have different traditions, skin color, languages and social backgrounds; we think differently and we celebrate our faith in a variety of rites. None of this makes us enemies; instead, it is one of our greatest riches,” Francis said several years ago.
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