Social Relations and Fraternity: A Paradox or a Sustainable Model?

In the history of the disciplines that have for their formal objective the analysis of society or social themes, the research of an approach to a spirituality is certainly not customary.

Obviously I’m not referring to a study of religion as a factor of social change or as an integrating element of social formation in different historical periods.

The formulation that I intend to offer is more ambitious: can a spirituality in its entirety, or in one or more of its elements, act as the inspiration for our social disciplines in their theoretical reflections, in their models of practical application, in their methodology? I’m perfectly aware that I have stepped on very steep ground, filled with obstacles, controversies, heated debates. In no way do I intend to pursue this type of discussion.

Very simply I would like to tell our experience which, like every experience, is limited. It must be placed within a certain context and undoubtedly lay itself open to a thousand analyses and objections. All this notwithstanding, I consider it worthwhile to take this risk, and at the same time to offer some of the first fruits of our efforts. I hope that these incomplete reflections can be perceived and accepted for what they are: an effort and an attempt to communicate something which we believe, which we live and which we are because we recognize its validity ever more clearly.

The context from which we start is the spirituality that the Focolare Movement offers, a spirituality of unity; therefore, a communitarian spirituality—and constitutively with influence in the social order—that constitutes our inspiration, our source of study and research.

A spirituality is a complete vision of existence, a way offered to everyone, a reality to contemplate, to understand and to live starting from a religious reference; a Christian spirituality looks, understands and lives reality from the angle of one or more elements of the Gospel message, of the message of Nazareth.

The perspective of the spirituality of the Focolare is unity, that unity which is the fruit and fulfilment of love-agape; that is of love which has those characteristics of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, with all its riches, which are not only theological but also anthropological and social.

“Unity, writes Chiara Lubich is the word that synthesizes our spirituality. For us unity encloses in itself every other supernatural reality, every other practice and commandment, every other religious attitude.”

Unity is understood, therefore, as a spiritual value and not only as such. It is seen as a force capable of effectively composing the human family by overcoming all divisions; not just territorial, but also those which are the fruit of political choices, and of ethnic, linguistic, social and religious conditions. (cf 1 Cor. 12)

Therefore we can accept and understand the testament of Jesus – “That all may be one” (Jn. 17:12) –as an enormous resource for relations of every kind. It contains in itself the seed of every form of integration and unity, in the refusal of every discrimination, war, controversy, nationalism, etc.

Unity comprises every relationship among persons, groups, communities, and countries. It impacts, in the integration of various social actors, a set of values that gives it meaning and significance.

In its social sense unity is called fraternity, an important concept that is not only Christian but universal: “You are all brothers and sisters”(Mt. 23:8).

“Jesus, our model—the conviction we hold since the early days of the Movement—teaches us only two things that are really one: to be children of one Father and to be brothers and sisters of one another.”

Chiara Lubich further affirms: “ In revealing that God is our Father and that all men and women are brothers and sisters, Jesus introduces the idea of the “human family” made possible by universal brotherhood in act. Consequently, he knocks down the walls which separate those who are “the same” from those who are “different,” friends from enemies. And he loosens all people from every unjust relationship, thus carrying out an authentic existential, cultural and political revolution.”

Down through the centuries there is a history of fraternity with its intention to inform and penetrate religious, social and political life, as well as the institutions. This history knows moments of theoretical and practical success. (We can’t but recall the monastic fraternity that determined the rebirth of Europe between the fifth and the sixth century; or the “Reduciones” of the Jesuits in Paraguay, a true example of a cultural meeting in the work of evangelization, of economic and social liberation and growth).

But there is also failure and bitter betrayal (it’s enough to recall the wars of religion in Europe with their consequence of suffering and death, the crusades in the Middle East, the pillaging of Africa during the colonial era). And yet it’s possible, and even necessary, to individuate a path of growth and maturity in brotherhood, no matter how uneven and winding it is.

Fraternity emerges in modern times as a social and political category in the triptych of the French Revolution: liberty, equality and fraternity. We read in the Declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen (1789): “All men are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and must act toward one another in a spirit of fraternity.”

Truly this triptych expresses and gives a face to the dynamism of a humanity that is one and multifaceted. One: in the recognition of the dignity of each person and in the affirmation of equality on the level of relationships; many-sided: in the diversity of its cultural, social and political expressions, etc.

The ideological reading of these values gave life to varied historical mediations which contrasted—at times harshly and with conflict—among themselves.

The bourgeois spirit interpreted liberty predominantly as an increase of economic power and individual liberties. In fact it favored the holders of capital and the means of production to the detriment of the rising proletariat. Equality found its place as a solemn affirmation in juridical codes and gradually became more formal than real. Fraternity was reduced to a narrow accord of interests of the privileged class, and in reality remained without compliance. It was far removed from every social and political reflection and practice.

The reaction to all this was socialist or scientific collectivism with its interpretation of liberty understood almost exclusively on an economic level, to the detriment of a deeper and more profound liberty. Equality became egalitarianism, and fraternity was enclosed in the restricted space of the classes.

Perhaps today a more complete and richer interpretation of the triptych is possible in order to find a new equilibrium among the three elements. The very lesson of history seems to indicate that fraternity is the foundation of the entire edifice, the amalgam that binds the other two and gives them meaning. Why? Fraternity is the fullness of reciprocity which, in turn, offers us a perspective for a further comprehension of authentic equality and liberty.

“Fraternity is the basic element of the triptych, which is its vital guarantee. Liberty is the conditioning element which has the capacity to promote another. Equality is the verifying element and the universal application.”

The comprehension of social relations throughout the history of sociology is made possible by the different paradigms that have enlightened it, often times in opposition among themselves. The knowledge of relational dynamics passes through the analysis of integration (Durkheim), of competition (Weber) of alienation (Marx) of conflict (Dahrendorf) and the like. In turn the paradigms are based on a postulate that has to do with an anthropological vision. Without this base, an explanation of the same social reality, which if not clear is at least intelligible, would be very difficult if not impossible. In addition there is almost unanimous consent that these paradigms were influenced by , and therefore they are indebted to, the social-cultural context in which they were conceived and in which they were developed and actualised. This relation between sociological theory and the historical-social context has already been made clearly evident by Professor Iorio in his presentation.

Currently we find ourselves in the midst of a structural-cultural change of noteworthy importance and of unknown outcome. The rapidity of changes taking place, their influence on lifestyles, on knowledge and on culture, not to mention on social-political organization, is such as to predict a new type of society. A society whose contents, value aspirations (or anti-value), principal lines of thought, systems of communication and political-social order are unimaginable at this time.

The noted philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, affirmed that every scientific revolution—and there’s no doubt that the actual change has this connotation—not only transforms the scientific imagination, but also the same world in which the scientific work was accomplished.7

Can we think that this new situation already in motion, can generate or require or attend new paradigms which are capable in turn of producing new social theories?

Or can we say that the rise of a new paradigm indicates that the society that is coming to be needs a new point of reference, a new perspective to illuminate, to explain its own features, clarify its own aspirations and reach out towards new goals?

While in the actual panorama of the social sciences new interpretive models are appearing, such as the network (Barnes –Bott), the gift (Caillé, Godbout) and the same social relation (Touraine, Donati, Bajoit), all searching for a new way to read and interpret this latter period of modernity, we believe that the binomial: unity-fraternity can constitute a paradigm or an innovative model capable of leading the social sciences along uncharted and unexplored paths. It is especially so in the case of sociology and the field of social politics and social existence. This conviction doesn’t arise only from a theoretic fact, but from the observation of the incisiveness of unity-fraternity on the behavior and on the choices of millions of individual and collective social actors that operate in the most varied sectors of social life, a planetary dimension.

The Focolare Movement with its eight million members and adherents—in its branches, mass movements, social projects, little towns of witness, dialogue on all fronts—represents a formidable laboratory where one experiments what it means to consider and live “unity-fraternity” as the inspiring principle of social life together.

Such a reality is no longer a marginal bit of news but is recognized today, also by scientists, as a social phenomenon with definite influence on society. On the occasion of the conferral of an honorary doctorate in social science to Chiara Lubich by the University of Lublin (Poland), Professor Adam Biela—at the time dean of that faculty—affirmed in his Laudatio: “The action of the Focolare Movement constitutes an actual living example of the application in social relationships of the paradigm of unity, so necessary for the social sciences so that they acquire a new force of application—capable of curing and preventing social pathology, conflicts, psychogenic illnesses, manifest aggression, wars and crimes (…)

The social activity of Chiara Lubich, impregnated by the charism of evangelical unity, constitutes a vital inspiration and an example for the social sciences. It urges them to create an interdisciplinary paradigm of unity, as the methodological foundation for the construction of theoretic models, of strategies of empirical research and of designs of application. Chiara Lubich, together with her collaborators (first women and then also men) has created a new social phenomenon, that by indicating the possibility of application for the new paradigm of unity, can play an important inspiring role. It is my conviction that it could be at the foundation of the social sciences and signify as much as the Copernican revolution signified for the natural sciences.”

These words are very challenging, but not for this less true, if we think of them not as mirroring a finished work, but as the potential of a charism that seeks and aspires (and has already begun for a long time now) to become a concrete fact. Therefore words that invite one to a fascinating work of study and research!

Now with some fear and a sense of limitation in what I say, I am ready to offer a few initial indications of the contents that are implicit in the model “unity-fraternity.”

Obviously we’re not talking about a rough draft of a theory, much less of an articulated thought. These are only points of reflection, indications, departure points for further in depth work that we hope to continue now, and for what is possible also in the future, together with all of you.

Unity-fraternity as relation

One could think that our discussion on the value of the person in a certain sense would have us distance ourselves from holistic approaches, and have us prefer those of methodological individualism that put the social actor and his choices at the center of theoretic construction. But it’s not like that. First of all the category of the individual can be meager, abstract, closed, while the idea of the person seems rich in identity, in values, and above all, in societal and communitarian relations, in a word, rich in history.

According to Horkheimer and Adorno, “Affirming that human life is essentially, and not only casually, life together, one again questions the concept of the individual as the ultimate social atom. If in the very foundation of his existence man is through others, who are also his similar, and only because of them, what he is, then his ultimate definition is not that of an original indivisibility and singularity, but rather that of a necessary participation and communication with others. Before being—also—individual, man is one of his “similars.” He relates to others before referring explicitly to himself. It is a moment of relationship which he lives before he eventually is able to be self-determining. All this is expressed in the concept of the person…”

Person means relationship, the possibility and the capacity to put oneself before the other and be recognized by the other. “The person emerges towards all of us and towards each one only when the recognition contains in itself both the designation – an empiric, cognitive indication and the reaction of the same designation-indication. Through the designation-indication I recognize that the other is a plumber, a faculty colleague, a fruit vendor. The person emerges when the designation triggers a moral reaction, and therefore the other is included in the moral universe of the self placing him within a responsibility free of sanction and of exchange.

Persons form relationships which envelop them, comprehend them, transform them, conditioning them from the outside and stimulating them from the inside. The relationship then becomes a reality among two or more, that is born and nourished by their being and acting. It in turn nourishes their being and acting. It helps them to grow and mature in a given way and with an increasing depth of life.

A primary quality of unity-fraternity inspired by a Christian perspective is its universality. This means that fraternal relations stretch beyond the bonds of family relationships to reach and embrace every human being: man or woman, citizen or foreigner, of my or another race, country, ethnic group, and religion considered and welcomed as a brother, a sister.

One can also assert that all are brothers and sisters because the entire human race is gathered together by Christ as a unique family. Fraternity is a value so constitutive of humanity and so universal that one finds it affirmed to some degree in all the major religions.

To remain within a Christian framework and bring it to its ultimate consequences, it’s necessary to add that the prayer of Christ before he went towards his passion and death, “So that all may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, may they also be one in us.” (Jn. 17:21), indicates the Trinitarian relationship among the three Divine Persons as the foundation and model of the relationships between human beings.

The mutual giving of the Three in an agape-relationship constitutes their being Person.

Analogously this occurs among human beings. “The more you give, the more you are fulfilled, the more you are; because one has what one gives. What one gives makes him be.”

Unity-fraternity requires unity and distinction

In order for the relationship of unity-fraternity to be fulfilled it contemporaneously requires action of unity and of distinction. To recognize the simultaneous presence of both elements is not only important but necessary. A well-conceived unity reinforces and realizes a healthy symbiosis between the parts of the relations even though they remain distinct. Distinction, in turn, sustains, preserves and guards the identity of each one. It impedes any absorption, dependence, or submission, and at the same time maintains it in unity.

Then thanks only to distinction, each one becomes an actor and takes the initiative to nourish and enrich unity.

The distinction brings about a differentiation that in a certain way signifies “opposition”, not in the sense of counter position, contrast or conflict, but in the sense that each one “being the other” becomes more fully himself.

How is it possible that this happens, that this being in relationship doesn’t lead to mutual exclusion?

The true inter-subjectivity such as unity in distinction or in difference is possible when one has a deep cognitive and affective experience both of one’s self and that of the other to the point of accepting oneself and the others as autonomous centers of being: conscious of self, free; equal in one’s dignity and at the same time, different.

Difference also means the awareness that one has something unique to offer the other or to offer all together. It’s this awareness that gives rise to the dynamic and the necessity to know how to take the initiative, to give new impulse to unity and the readiness to lose one’s eventual gifts if it is not the moment to offer them.

And so, not only is each one not the other, but also each one is himself only through the other. On the one hand unity produces a very intense fusion and an intimate community of feeling, yet on the other hand, it never annuls the distinction.

One can also hypothesize a fraternal relationship that involves unity-distinction not only at a micro level but also at a macro level: among communities, peoples, nations, religions, institutions.

The process of globalization would require it as a necessary dimension of the new social reality that is being envisaged. Fraternity would be able to activate a new and innovative plus in international relations. It is certainly difficult and complex to articulate and realize, but it is feasible and decisive for the future of humanity. In fact, seen in this light history offers examples that cannot be disregarded.

Unity-fraternity as reciprocity

One of the dynamisms of social action is that of being reciprocal.

Weber indicated reciprocity as an dynamism of social action. Simmel did the same He defined all that comes about in a social relation as reciprocal action.

Social relation is the fundamental theoretic category that must be understood as interaction, or reciprocal action.

“For Simmel the social phenomenon is not the emanation of a subject nor even of an abstract system more or less situated a-priori. It is the relation in itself, that is the reciprocal action in as much as it is inter-action that produces; it is incorporated and is manifested in something that, even though it is not visible, has its “solidity.”

Simmel himself explains how this process, that gives life to a new reality that has its own life beyond the elements from which it is derived, is constituted among individuals.

“The life of society consists in the reciprocal relations of its elements—mutual relations which in part are developed in momentary actions and reactions, and in part are consolidated in definite structures: in duties and laws, statutes and properties, language and means of communication. All these reciprocal social effects arise from the base of determined interests, purposes and impulses. At the same time they form the matter that is used socially in individuals’ being together: one next to the other, one for the other, or one with the other.”

Both Weber and Simmel seek to explain this reciprocity: dictated by the meaning given to the subject (Weber), or in view of determined purposes (Simmel).

We can say that unity-fraternity generates reciprocity in love, that is agape, a mirror and reflex of Trinitarian Agape (“God is Love” 1 Jn. 4:8). “The God of religion is the God of relation: unity conceived as interaction.” We find ourselves in front of a particular type of love that is not added to human loves (paternal, maternal, filial, that of friends, of spouses) but that moulds them, and sustains all the possibilities of love in their varied nuances. And so every type of human love is fully such in the measure in which it is modeled on fraternity.

Reciprocity, according to the Trinitarian model, in the concretization of Jesus’ commandment: “I give you a new commandment: Love one another. Such as my love has been for you, so must your love be for each other.” (Jn. 13:34), means mutual indwelling, or mutual containment, being mutually one in the other and the other in the one. The subjects, who are so contained in one another, unite by distinguishing themselves and distinguish themselves by uniting.

Fraternal relationship is essentially reciprocal, as a movement that goes out and that returns It is enriched with values such as trust, welcome, listening, gift and sharing. It is oriented to overcome and resolve contrast, conflict, opposition and breakdown.

The consequence is the full, authentic realization of the inter-subjectivity of the actors involved in the relation when they live a reciprocal commitment toward one another. In this way there are the conditions for a full realisation of the person.

Unity-fraternity as gift

Besides the paradigms of methodological individualism and collectivist holism, today the gift is presented directly as the “third paradigm” that responds to the preceding paradigms with a logic of liberty and gratuity in its three constitutive moments: to give, to receive, to return.

From a sociological point of view, the gift appears as a strong concept of reference for the description, the comprehension and the interpretation of the dynamic of social relations.

“The gift contains a non-eliminating implication of sociality and relationship; there is a concretization of expressions and of consequences present in it, which is independent of the interior or internal orientation—for example, charitable, philanthropic or “interested”—of the one who places it in being.

The sociologists of MAUSS—Anti-utilitarian Movement in the social sciences—define gift as “every form of goods and services effected without guaranty of restitution, with the purpose of creating, increasing, or recreating the social bond among persons.

The problem of restitution as a constitutive and indispensable element of gift was already proposed by Marcel Mauss in his “Essai sur le don” in 1924, without however resolving the question. In fact, according to many authors the problem remained an open one.

An attempt at a solution was made through the research for a logic of reciprocity as an explanation of the necessity of restitution. Reciprocity would be the reason of the counter-concession in all situations. The interrogative that persists is: does the responsibility of the actors still remain in the act of giving, receiving and of exchanging?

Recently in a conference in Germany, the philosopher Paul Ricouer, under the influence of M. Henaff (“The price of truth”) indicated a new solution:

“(If the actors) must be truly the actors of reciprocity, the only way open is to say that the gift is the pledge and the substitute of a reciprocal recognition that in fact is not acknowledged; therefore the recognition cannot be vouched for except in the pledge of the gift.. (…)

“The gift is without price: it’s not that it didn’t have a cost; but in the act of exchange its price doesn’t appear—it is without price. And it is in the non commercial experiences that we have the possibility of the gift as a pledge and as a substitute for a reciprocal recognition.”

Here is how Simmel explains the reciprocal action of giving and the acceptance of the gift: ”In every giving, beyond the intrinsic value of the gift, a spiritual value is inserted. We absolutely cannot dissolve nor annul the interior bond that was created by the acceptance of the gift, with another gift which exteriorly is its equivalent. The gift’s acceptance is not only a passive enrichment, but also a concession of the giver. Just as in giving so also in receiving a predilection is shown that goes far beyond the value of its object.”

In unity-fraternity the gift is lived in an even greater and more profound dimension that envelops our very being.

“I myself sensed,– Chiara Lubich wrote– that I had been created as a gift for those who are near to me and that those who are near to me have been created by God as a gift for me, as the Father in the Trinity is everything for the Son and the Son is everything for the Father.”

Moreover fraternity reveals and explains in what the essence of the gift consists. “Man gives origin to societies thanks to a radical generosity that he finds inscribed in his being, in his life, in his intelligence and love, which permits a dialogue with others and a superabundance of the gift of self.”

A human being, therefore, is a being made for giving, and this quality is transferred to all the bonds and to all the relationships in which he is involved.

Gift then, is synonymous with love. The gift is none other than love in act. Not only does it not close in on itself, but in itself is diffusive. Love requires the gift. It asks every social agent, individual or collective to be transformed and to act as a giver.

“To love means to give oneself: to think of one’s brother (or sister) by stepping into his shoes…(Lubich, Unedited Writings).

The fraternal relationship, completed symbol of love-agape, is thus weighted with substance. It’s a pure gift but doesn’t disdain exchange and reciprocity; on the contrary it requires it, but with a noble profile. It doesn’t include what one can buy, sell, possess and consume, but it rises towards liberty and love.

The gift of self to the other is also manifested in giving spiritual and material goods, as a sharing and communion of goods. “In this way love circulates and (through its inherent law of communion) like a river of fire, naturally caries along with it, all that the two possess in order to achieve a communion of both their material and spiritual goods.”

The sharing and the communion of goods reinforce fraternal bonds and create a true art of giving which is abundant in other expressions that are very precise: gratuity, oblation, broadmindedness, joy, and reciprocity.

Unity-fraternity as communion

The category “communion” is not used much in sociology. As a matter of fact I would say it is distant from sociological language and, in a certain sense, almost unknown.

And yet today it is gaining ground and emerging as a very rich concept with many valences.

Obviously, it is above all a category that is widely used and is at home in the realm of spirituality and Christian theology. In fact, in this sense, one can assert that communion finds its generating font from the communion of life of God himself in his being Trinity, a communion of love among Persons.

Trinitarian communion is therefore the ontological foundation of every form of communion, as substance and as life. And it is thus that it also becomes an anthropological category.

John Paul II in the encyclical letter, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis affirms: Beyond human and natural bonds, already so close and strong, there is discerned in the light of faith a new model of the unity of the human race (… ) This supreme model of unity, which is a reflection of the intimate life of God, one God in three Persons, is what we Christians mean by the word communion” (n. 40)

The eminent theologian Klaus Hemmerle, former bishop of Achen, emphasizes and explains this relation between divinity and humanity: “Our personal being is assumed into the communion of life and love among the Father, Son and Spirit; but with that I, and I only, can no longer represent the point of departure and the final point of my being, but I can live the Trinitarian existence only in reciprocity, in “we,” that nonetheless doesn’t dissolve the I and the you, but constitutes it.”

It is evident that, even if we do not consider this spiritual foundation, the social relationship implicit in our common living understood as interaction, is completed in communion.

It is thus that communion gives rise also to an economic category with the “Economy of Communion.” This economic project launched by Chiara Lubich in 1991 in Brazil rests on two major tenets: the sharing of the enterprise’s profits with the needy and the insertion of communion in economic relationships. If the first element demands surmounting the culture of having to assume the culture of giving, the second implies overriding the formal or instrumental rationality and the assumption of an “expressive” rationality that is not instrumental. The businesses that adhere to the Project of the Economy of Communion are enucleating the lines of conduct for the enterprise that revolve around the concept of communion as the essence of business relationships both internally (with the workers, clients, suppliers, etc) and externally (with competitors, governing bodies, the surrounding environment, etc). This approach implies that one gives priority to the motivations and values in interpersonal relations, and emphasizes themes such as trust, reciprocity, etc.

The economy of communion offers economic science a new stimulus and new possibilities for resolving its own contradictions with its negative effects; it forms a “virtuous” circle where new elements that are more positive and that offer new proposals find their place.

Communion also finds space as a juridical category within the so-named Social Law that derives directly from the functioning of social groups.

Georges Gurvitch was the one who best completed the work of establishing the tradition that widened into Social Law, which he named the Law of Communion.

According to Gurvitch “Social Law” is an autonomous right of communion that integrates in objective form every active real totality, and that incarnates a positive extra-temporal value. This right is derived directly from the “totality” in question in order to regulate its interior life independently from the fact that this “totality” is organized or in-organized. The “Right of communion” permits a participation in the “totality” directly through the juridical relation that emanates from it without transforming this “totality ” into a subject separate from its members.”

Therefore we can say that the “Right of communion” and communion find their own justification, the one in the other, respectively.

This social “totality”—for the theorists of social Law—has the significance of an “immanent communion,” therefore of a reality both ethical-juridical and formal-juridical.

In the formal-juridical meaning this “immanent communion” indicates both the human community that constitutes it and the fact that we find ourselves in front of something that Gierk has named a “complex juridical person.” It is characterized by the fact that the “totality” is not transcendent in respect to the members that comprise it, but neither can it be equated with the members in question, not even with their sum.

We can therefore define communion in ethical and juridical terms that are coherent with the spirit of fraternity.

In short, and even more to the point, communion is a sociological concept.

In one of his fundamental works Gurvitch did a profound analysis of the manifestation of sociality derived from the partial fusion of the subjects. According to the degree, the intensity and the depth of this fusion, he distinguishes three forms of sociality, which he calls a “We”. These three forms are the Mass, the Community and the Communion. He then amply describes the relations that the I, the He and the Others form internally within the “We.”

“A we” (such as “we French,” “we militant union members,” “we students,” “we parents”) constitutes a totality that can’t be reduced to the plurality of its members, a new
unity that cannot be taken apart. Nevertheless the whole tends to be immanent to the parts, and the parts immanent to the whole. This reciprocal indwelling, which could also be defined as a mutual participation of unity in plurality and of plurality in unity can assume varied forms in the different “We.”

Communion represents the maximum degree of intensity of participation, of the force of attraction and of the depth of fusion of the “We.” If we look at the heart of the “We”, where the fusion is the greatest and “reunites the most personal and the most intimate depths of the I and of the Other, no aspect remains outside the participation and the integration of the “We.”

Gurvitch’s reflections are developed in the field of micro sociology and are of unquestionable interest for a greater understanding of face-to-face relationships.

In the case of fraternal relations a series of correlated dynamics are expressed that enrich, give singleness of purpose and further meaning to the relation itself. In fact it includes being one with the others, where liberty and the absolute choice to enter and to participate in the relation come into evidence. Being one for the other brings into evidence the “how” of the relation, that is, its modality. Being one in the other underlines the capacity to be and to make a gift of self to the others. Being one thanks to the other, where what comes to light is that the identity of each one can best be expressed in the reciprocal communion among them.

In the fraternal relationship we can further assert that the depths of the relations, the intensity of the interaction and the sentiments of love, esteem, affection, trust—raised to a universal level—form relationships of communion. They are able to inspire on all levels in social reality a positive current which fosters harmony, equilibrium, order–and because of this–progress, development and perfection to a considerable degree. All elements particularly requested by a society characterized by social instability, alienation and contrasts.

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