Catechesis of Pope Francis

By: Pope Francis

Papa Francisco

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected we all are. If we do not take care of each other, starting with the last, those who are most affected, even of creation, we cannot heal the world.

The commitment of so many people who in these months are showing human and Christian love for others is laudable, dedicating themselves to the sick, also putting their own health at risk. They’re heroes! However, coronavirus is not the only disease to fight, but the pandemic has brought to light broader social pathologies. One of these is the distorted vision of the person, a look that ignores his dignity and his relational character. Sometimes we look at others as objects, to use and discard. In reality, this kind of blind gaze fosters a culture of individualistic and aggressive discard, which transforms human beings into a good of consumption (cf. Exhortation ap. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 53; Enc. Laudato si’ [LS], 22).

In the light of faith we know, however, that God looks at man and woman in a different way. He has created us not as objects, but as people loved and able to love; created us in his image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:27). In this way he has given us a unique dignity, inviting us to live in communion with Him, in communion with our sisters and our brothers and sisters, in respect for all creation. In communion, in harmony, we can say. Creation is a harmony in which we are called to live. And in this communion, in this harmony which is communion, God gives us the ability to procreate and guard life (cf. Gen 1:28-29), to work and care for the earth (cf. Gen 2:15; LS, 67). It is understood that life cannot be procreated and guarded without harmony; will be destroyed.

From this individualistic gaze, which is not harmony, we have an example in the Gospels, in the request that the mother of James and John makes to Jesus (cf. Mt 20:20-28). She wants her children to be able to sit to the right and to the left of the new king. But Jesus proposes another kind of vision: that of service and of giving life for others, and confirms it by immediately returning the sight to two blind people and making them his disciples (cf. Mt 20:29-34). Trying to climb in life, to be superior to others, destroys harmony. It’s the logic of the domain, of dominating others. Harmony is something else: it is service.

Let us therefore ask the Lord to give us attentive eyes to our brothers and sisters, especially those who suffer. As disciples of Jesus we do not want to be indifferent or individualistic, these are the two evil attitudes against harmony. Indifferent: I look the other way. Individualists: look only at one’s own interest. The harmony created by God asks us to look at others, the needs of others, the problems of others, to be in communion. We want to recognize human dignity in every person, whatever their race, language or condition. Harmony leads you to recognize human dignity, that harmony created by God, with man in the center.

The Second Vatican Council stresses that this dignity is inalienable, because it “has been created in the image of God” (Const. past. Gaudium et spes, 12). It is the foundation of all social life and determines operational principles. In modern culture, the closest reference to the principle of the inalienable dignity of the person is the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, which St. John Paul II defined as “a miliar stone laid on the long and difficult path of mankind”[1], and as “one of the highest expressions of human consciousness”[2]. Rights are not only individual, but also social; are of the peoples, of the nations[3]. The human being, in fact, in his personal dignity, is a social being, created in the image of God One and Triune. We are social beings, we need to live in this social harmony, but when there is selfishness, our gaze does not go to others, to the community, but it returns to ourselves and this makes us ugly, evil, selfish, destroying harmony.


This renewed awareness of the dignity of every human being has serious social, economic and political implications. Looking at the brother and all creation as a gift received by the father’s love provokes a behavior of attention, care and stupor. Thus the believer, contemplating his neighbour as a brother and not as a stranger, looks at him with compassion and empathy, not with contempt or enmity. And contemplating the world in the light of faith, he strives to develop, with the help of grace, his creativity and his enthusiasm to solve the dramas of history. He conceives and develops his capacities as responsibilities that spring from his faith[4], as gifts of God to put at the service of humanity and creation.

While all of us work for the cure of a virus that strikes everyone interchangeably, faith exhorts us to engage seriously and actively to counter indifference in the face of violations of human dignity. This culture of indifference that accompanies the culture of discarding: the things that do not touch me do not interest me. Faith always demands that we be healed and converted from our individualism, both personal and collective; party individualism, for example.

May the Lord “give us back our sight” to rediscover what it means to be members of the human family. And this look can translate into concrete actions of compassion and respect for each person and care and custody for our common home.


[1] Address to the United Nations General Assembly (October 2, 1979), 7.

[2] Address to the United Nations General Assembly (October 5, 1995), 2.

[3] Cfr Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 157.

[4] Ibid

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