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Justice and Ecology

Introduction

This guide encourages groups to dive deep into the key themes of “Fratelli Tutti.” Each section breaks down one theme from the encyclical, offering selected readings, a facilitated discussion guide and suggested action steps to realize Pope Francis’ vision in your community. The sections can standalone or be used in conjunction. While they are designed for communal reflection whether in high school classrooms or parish groups they can also be adapted for individual reflection and prayer.

Each section includes opportunities for action on a social justice issue. These include research projects for high school-age students, as well as advocacy opportunities for people of all ages.

This resource was authored and created by Marianne Gallagher and Cappy Russell, with support from the Jesuit Conference.

Download our “Fratelli Tutti” Lesson Plan for high-school age students.

Migration: A Failure to Respect Human Dignity on the Borders

Reflect:

What aspects of life are open to you because of who you are, where you live, your family, your ethnicity, your socioeconomic status, your gender, your sexual orientation? What aspects of life have been closed off to you because of these factors?

Read

Read paragraphs 37 through 41 from “Fratelli Tutti” (linked here).

Discuss

  • When I put up a wall, I am left without a horizon. What and who am I not seeing?
  • Have you experienced or witnessed “local narcissism" on a local, regional or national level? How does this narcissism relate to migration?
  • How is empathy different from sympathy? How does empathy create solidarity?
  • How can the story of the Good Samaritan shed light on our immigration system? Can we understand the migrant as the man on the side of the road? Who are we in this story?

Take Action

The Death Penalty

Reflect:

Does forgiveness mean forgetting? How does justice differ from vengeance? Have you ever wished someone ill out of anger?

Read

Read paragraphs 263 through 270 of “Fratelli Tutti” (linked here).

Discuss

  • How can the story of the Good Samaritan shed light on our criminal justice system? Can we understand those in prison as the man on the side of the road?
  • How does fear perpetuate injustices in our criminal justice system?
  • The Gospel tells us to forgive “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22). How can we extend this mercy to those in prison and on death row?
  • Reflect on this quote: “I will give everyone the possibility of sharing this planet with me, despite all our differences.” What steps can we take to ensure all people can share this planet?

Economic Justice: Envisaging and Engendering an Open World

Reflect:

Imagine your life 20 years from now. How did you get there? What personal, family and social structures have to be in place for you to get to this place?

Read

Read paragraphs 121 through 127 of “Fratelli Tutti” (linked here).

Discuss

  • Examine the colonial history of political interference that exploited both human and natural resources. How do current political and economic issues stem from this past?
  • Do we still benefit from the exploitation of another nation’s human and natural resources?
  • Who is the injured man alongside the road? Who is the robber and what did he take?
  • Who is the person/ are the persons who stop to help? What change can your country enact to be the innkeeper?

Take Action

  • Research globalization and exploitive economies:
  • Choose a country in the Global South. Research economic outcomes for a child born in that country and compare them to standards in the U.S. (education, earning power, political stability, health and life expectancy, etc.). Make an infographic demonstrating the differences.

Reconciliation: The Value and Meaning of Forgiveness

Reflect:

What does it mean to “feel at home?” Describe a moment when you felt at home and when you experienced the opposite.

Reflect on a moment when you felt the need to be forgiven or were asked for forgiveness. What hurt, disappointment or injustice comes to mind? How did you address these feelings at the time? How would you address them now?

Read

Read paragraphs 236 through 254 of “Fratelli Tutti” (linked here).

Discuss

  • Why can’t we just forgive and forget — like the saying goes?
  • Reflect on this quote: “When conflicts are not resolved but kept hidden or buried in the past, silence can lead to complicity in grave misdeeds and sins.” Can this dynamic be found in our society today in the reality of systemic racism? How so?
  • Reflect on this quote: “We should never confine others to what they may have said or done, but value them for the promise that they embody [212].” How can we use this perspective in reconciliation?
  • Building social friendship calls for “rapprochement between groups who took different sides at some troubled period of history.” In our society who are these groups then and now?
  • What does reconciliation between the haves and have nots in our society look like?

Take Action

  • Write a penitential prayer that seeks forgiveness for ongoing injustice in your community, society, nation, world. Find examples here.

Global Politics: Populism and Liberalism

Reflect:

If someone were to ask you, “To what people do you belong?”, how would you answer?

Imagine yourself as the CEO of a successful business. What does “successful” mean to you in this context?

Read

Read paragraphs 155 through 169 of “Fratelli Tutti” (linked here).

Discuss

  • Explain how the phrase “We the People” is understood in our society today. Are there people left out of the “We the People?”
  • “Only the privileged can ignore political realities.” What does Pope Francis mean?
  • What is the evidence of a healthy populism? Of an unhealthy populism? Which is evident in your area, region, nation?
  • How does unemployment fuel unhealthy populism and employment stifle it?
  • How has the COVID pandemic demonstrated the need for worker rights?
  • “Work is an essential dimension of social life.” What does this mean?
  • The economic “cup” only enlarges, it doesn’t spill over. Explain.

Take Action

  • A national or federal budget is a moral statement. Research the top five expenditures in your national budget. What does it say about who and what are valued?