Here is a ZENIT working translation of the Message that Pope Francis sent to the Brazilian faithful on the occasion of the 53rd Lenten Fraternity Campaign promoted by the Episcopal Conference of Brazil, this year on the theme: “Common Home, Common Responsibility,” inspired in Amos’ biblical verse: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
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Dear Brothers and Sisters of Brazil!
In His great mercy, God does not tire of offering us His blessing and His grace and of calling us to conversion and to growth in the faith. Held in Brazil during Lent, since 1963, is the Fraternity Campaign. Each year it proposes a communitarian motivation for a conversion and change of life. In 2016, the Fraternity Campaign addresses basic sanitation. It has as its theme: “Common Home, <Our>Responsibility.” Its biblical motto is taken from the Prophet Amos: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
It is the fourth time that the Fraternity Campaign is held with the Churches that are part of the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil. However, this time, it crosses borders: it is made together with Miseor, initiative of German Catholics, which has held the Lenten Campaign since 1958. The main objective this year is to contribute to ensure the essential right of all to basic sanitation. Therefore, it appeals to all persons, inviting them to commit themselves with public policies and responsible attitudes, which guarantee the integrity and the future of our Common Home.
We all have responsibility for our Common Home; it involves those who govern and the whole society. Through this Fraternity Campaign, persons and communities are invited to mobilize from the localities in which they live. They are called to take initiatives in which the Churches and the different religious expressions and all persons of good will are united in the promotion of the justice and right to basic sanitation. Access to potable water and to sanitary draining is a necessary condition to overcome social injustice and for the eradication of poverty and of hunger, to surmount the high rates of infant mortality and of avoidable illnesses, and for environmental sustainability.
In the encyclical Laudato Si’, I reminded that “access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights” (n. 30) and that the grave social debt towards the poor is partially settled when programs are developed to provide clean water and sanitation to the poorest populations (Cf. Ibid.). And, in a perspective of integral ecology, I attempted to show the nexus there is between environmental degradation and human and social degradation, alerting that “the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet” (n. 48).
Let us reflect further on the ecological culture. It cannot be limited to partial answers, as if the problems were isolated. It “needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality” (Laudato Si’, 111). Dear brothers and sisters, I insist that the rich patrimony of Christian spirituality can make a magnificent contribution to the effort of renewing humanity. And I invite you, especially during this Lent, motivated by the Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign, to rediscover how our spirituality deepens when we overcome “the temptation to be Christians, keeping a prudent distance from the Lord’s wounds” and we discover that Jesus wants us “to touch the suffering flesh of others” (Evangelii Gaudium, 270), dedicating ourselves to “a spirit of generous care, full of tenderness” (Laudato Si’, 220) of our brothers and sisters and to the whole of Creation.
I unite myself to all the Christians of Brazil and to those that, in Germany, are involved in the Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign, asking God:
“Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace” (Laudato Si’, 246).
I take advantage of the occasion to send to all my cordial greetings with all good wishes in Jesus Christ, only Savior of humanity and I ask, please, that you not fail to pray for me!
Vatican, January 22, 2016
[Original text: Portuguese]
[Translation by ZENIT]