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Pope Video: Building social friendship

The Pope Video for July 2021 conveys Pope Francis’s concern that people would “go beyond their groups of friends and build social friendship, which is so necessary for living together well”.

This theme seems particularly apposite in the light of a certain disintegration of human solidarity in recent years. Most notably, perhaps, this has been felt in the failure to meet the challenge posed by refugees and other displaced people; also by the emergence of vaccine nationalism – a particularly vicious refusal by richer nations to acknowledge their responsibility to those that are less fortunate. It is this kind of dereliction of duty that inspires the Pope’s prayer for the month.

We especially need to have a renewed encounter with the most impoverished and vulnerable, those on the peripheries. And we need to distance ourselves from populisms that exploit the anguish of the people without providing solutions, proposing a mystique that solves nothing. We must flee from social enmity which only destroys, and leave “polarization” behind.

The answer, for Pope Francis, lies in “constructing the common good” through dialogue. In order to achieve this we need to “see reality in a new way”. “Let us pray,” the Pope finishes,

that, in social, economic, and political situations of conflict, we may be courageous and passionate architects of dialogue and friendship, men and women who always hold out a helping hand, and may no spaces of enmity and war remain.

In their notes to accompany the Pope’s prayer intentions for July, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network identifies the following means to build up “social friendship”:

  • Fomenting a culture of encounter, without excluding anyone
  • Opening our eyes to see the wounds of so many of our brothers and sisters deprived of their dignity
  • Acknowledging human dignity always and everywhere
  • Investing in assistance to the weak, although it may be unprofitable, with State policies oriented towards the well-being of all people
  • Approaching, speaking, listening, looking at, and coming to know and understand one another and find common ground: dialogue