Calls to change ‘sexist’ encyclical title grow louder
ROME – Calls for Pope Francis to change the title of his forthcoming encyclical Fratelli tutti (Brothers all) to be gender inclusive are growing louder.
We Are Church International is the latest Catholic organization to slam the title as sexist, echoing the Catholic Women’s Council’s push for the pontiff to include the word sorelle (sisters).
“This is an important encyclical on social justice for our post Covid world. Yet sadly Pope Francis is undermining his important message by choosing the sexist title Fratelli tutti,” We Are Church International, a global coalition of Church reform groups, said in a statement.
Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Assisi on Oct. 3 to sign the encyclical on the social, political and economic obligations that flow from a belief that all people are children of God and therefore sisters and brothers to one another.
The Church reform group praised the pope’s first address to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square seven years ago when he used the inclusive phrase, “Fratelli e sorelle! Buonasera!”
His words “were greeted with a great cheer, especially from the many women present,” the statement continued. “So why does he now revert to a very old fashioned Fratelli tutti which in 2020 most certainly does not include sorelle.”
An open letter posted on the Catholic Women’s Council website, states that, given Fratelli tutti translates literally as All brothers, there is concern “the masculine noun will alienate many, at a time when women in many different languages and cultures are resistant to being told that the masculine is intended generically.”
The Vatican News editorial director Andrea Tornielli, however, argued that Fratelli tutti is a direct quote from St Francis of Assisi and in no way excludes women.
Writing last month in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Tornielli said – “Francis chose the words of the Saint of Assisi to initiate a reflection on something he cares about very deeply: namely, fraternity and social friendship. He therefore addresses all his sisters and brothers, all men and women who populate the earth: everyone, inclusively, and in no way exclusively.”