In chapter 2 of Pope Francis’ encyclical On Fraternity and Social Friendship (Fratelli tutti) the Holy Father looks at the parable of the good Samaritan. In paragraph 77, one finds four interesting points from the Pope. The first point involves co-responsibility. Francis says,
We should not expect everything from those who govern us for that would be childish. We have the space we need for co-responsibility in creating and putting into place new processes and changes.
Co-responsibility it’s going to be a big issue in the future of the Church. For too long, the church has relied on priests and bishops for administration and decision making. Talented, skilled lay people need to take their rightful place in church governance and management.
I attended a conference in Washington, D.C. on co-responsibility. It was sponsored by the Catholic Leadership Roundtable. They pointed to the special role that women, young adults, and lay professionals will play. The laity is needed to develop new procedures for sound church financial management and transparency. Discipleship training and evangelization are also roles for fruitful co-responsibility.
Paul Francis a second point concerns subsidiarity. (paragraph 78) Pope Francis: “We can start from below and, case by case, add at the most concrete and local levels.” This is a good definition of subsidiarity. Responsibility and decision making should be done at the most appropriate level. This way it will be most effective. People of significant authority should not micromanage people who report to them. People at lower levels of responsibility should not be expected to make decisions for people with more authority. Social justice and care for the poor should take place within the family first. Teams and parishes can then consider what they can do to address larger issues.
The third point that the Holy Father addresses is teamwork.
Let us not do this alone as individuals. The Samaritan discovered an innkeeper who would care for the man. We too are called to unite as a family that is stronger than the sum of small individual members.
Finally, Pope Francis writes about humility. He notes the Samaritan who stopped along the way (Paragraph 79). The Samaritan departed without expecting any recognition or gratitude. In the Men’s Gospel Reflection Groups to which I belong, every week we pray the “Prayer of Humility.” It asks for the grace to perform God’s will and fulfill our call. This should be done without looking for recognition or getting credit for it. It reflects an opening prayer from One of the Sundays in ordinary time:
Lord, may everything we do begin with your inspiration and continue with your help. So that all our prayers and works may begin in you and by you be happily ended. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Francis writes that all we do begins with God’s grace. It is ultimately completed through God’s grace as well.