For a new humanism of fraternity

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Finishes today, with the intervention of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, the 5th national Congress held in Florence, whose topic is “Jesus Christ, a new humanism”. More than 2500 participants, many of whom present virtually, in streaming, (the absolute novelty of this meeting), with the warm embrace to Pope Francis from a Church festive in the joy of the Gospel. The Pontiff addressed an important invitation, to the faithful: “Maintain a healthy contact with reality, with what people live, with their tears and joys, is the only way to be able to help and form those people, and communicate with them. The only way to speak to the hearts of people is by touching their daily experience: work, family, health problems, traffic, school, and health services”.

The Pope, in short, used a language familiar to God’s family, announcing thus the very essence of Christian humanism, which is concrete and integral: intimacy with God and with people in real, everyday life.

So, we may say that Christian humanism is “family” humanism. The totality of interpersonal relationships within the family, which are grounded in faithful and responsible love – maternity and paternity, nuptiality, fraternity -, corresponds to the relational methods in society, in the human family and in the family of God, the Church, in humanity. “In the bosom of the family”, a person becomes, in a natural and harmonious way, part of a human group, overcoming the false opposition between the individual and society”, wrote Pope Bergoglio in his message to the Latin American Congress of the Pastoral Care of the Family in Panama, in 2014.

At the core of the human family, a person discovers his own dignity as a child of God and lives faith as the essential dimension of existence, inseparable from the “horizontal” one, on earth, which consists in living together with the others, in a free bond of mutual responsibility.

In “De quantitatae animae“, St. Augustine speaks of man as ‘the only being provided with senses and capable of reasoning, capable of understanding God, admire His works, and recognize its power and value”. The human being is the only creature who has with God an affective, rational, sentimental, “family”, a father-son, fraternal, and nuptial relationship in Jesus Christ and in the Church. The relationship with the Father, with an “overflowing supernatural charity”, as Paul VI put it (in the message to the distant brothers, ”Listen to us” ), is intimately connected to the dignity of the human person. The whole life is an  “apprenticeship” of love with God – to use an expression of the Christian humanist Emmanuel Mounier – in the relationship with the others, with our brothers and sisters in humanity. Anthropology is illuminated by Trinitarian mystery.

The “new humanism” announced by Pope Francis is a humanism of brotherhood. “Every man is my brother”: in this expression is contained “the goal of all human progress”, the foundation of the “civilization of love”, Paul VI said. And, in the Apostolic Exhortation “Familiaris Consortio” John Paul II, we read that “a true spirit of fraternal charity is an effective instrument of integral human development and peace”. Its “obligations” are solidarity, social justice, universal charity. All contained in a single law: the mandate of love, the legacy Jesus left to humanity. The duty which underlies all other duties and feeds them is truth.

Fraternity, brotherhood, and therefore the key word of Christian humanism and of a new human condition. New humanism does not mean “new man”, but rather renewed, in the light of the Gospel of hope, mercy, and universal brotherhood. The authentic humanity Pope Francis speaks about, using the example of Jesus Christ, is fraternity, in God’s fatherhood. “Fraternity is an essential dimension of man, which consists in being relational. The acute awareness of this relationality leads us to see and treat every person as a true sister or a true brother. Without doing so, it would be impossible to build a fair society, a solid and lasting peace”, – the Pontiff stated on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, at the beginning of 2014.

The anthropology of brotherhood, regenerated in Jesus Christ, extends the relations of love beyond our relatives, in relationship with God. It means to look at God’s gaze on the face of Jesus. Jesus is a witness, a model and example of realized, authentic, integral humanity, as perfect brotherhood. The father of Christian humanism, Erasmus of Rotterdam stated: “The complete man is the one who is in intimate relationship with Christ, who lives in imitatio Christi“, following Jesus’ example, that of the son of the living God. We are brothers in Christ, sisters in Christ, custodians of humanity in the image of God” and ambassadors of hope and salvation.

Here is the sixth word, which completes the “five ways” of reflection of the Italian Church in Florence: “preserve”.  To be custodians, of our brothers and of the created, is our mission. “Custody” means love, care, service, patience, tenderness, mercy, listening, annunciation, being close, educating ourselves and the others to the humane and in the humane, living, feeling and witnessing to the “fragrance of the presence of Jesus”, in the joy of faith, as a continuous encounter and always wonderful embrace in the mystery of Trinitarian communion, as a family, with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the conscience and the relation with the others, in the world.

The humanism of brotherhood is, therefore, ecological. “The earth is the common home of humanity, “Pope Francis writes in the Encyclical “Praised be”. And the house of God.

In Florence, the Archbishop of Agrigento, the Cardinal Francesco Montenegro has announced that the Pontiff has decided to give to the island of Lampedusa the work of the Cuban artist Kacho, which represents a cross made of the oars of a barge. Raul Castro had donated it to the Pope on the occasion of his visit to Cuba. From this Mediterranean border, on the “edge of the world” in July 2013, Pope Francis had launched an invitation for a new humanism of fraternity.

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