Pope to take part in UN event celebrating human fraternity

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Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque and university, sign documents during an interreligious meeting at the Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in this 4 February, 2019, file photo. PHOTO: CNS/Paul Haring

New international day responds to a call by Pope Francis

The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will participate in a meeting hosted by the United Nations to mark the first International Day of Human Fraternity.

According to a statement published on 1 February by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the pope will take part in the 4 February virtual event, which will be hosted in Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince.

Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University, and António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, are also expected to attend, the pontifical council said.

“This celebration responds to a clear call that Pope Francis has been making to all humanity” – Cardinal Ayuso

“This celebration responds to a clear call that Pope Francis has been making to all humanity to build a present of peace in the encounter with the other,” said Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

“In October 2020, that invitation became even more vivid with the Encyclical ‘Fratelli Tutti.’ These meetings are a way to achieve true social friendship, as the Holy Father asks of us,” he said.

Pope Francis walks with Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque and university, before a meeting with members of the Muslim Council of Elders in the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in this 4 February 2019, file photo. PHOTO: CNS/Paul Haring

The date chosen for the event marks the day in 2019 that Pope Francis and Sheikh el-Tayeb signed a document on promoting dialogue and “human fraternity” during his apostolic visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity was established after the pope’s visit in order to implement concrete proposals toward fraternity, solidarity and mutual understanding proposed in the document.

Need for fraternity urgent given “escalating” global dangers

In an interview with Vatican News published on 1 February, Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, secretary-general of the committee, said the celebration of the International Day of Human Fraternity “means that humanity has come to realise the importance of human fraternity in shaping its relations” and those of “its future generations”.

The international day, he added, also comes at a time when humanity continues to face difficult challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as escalating conflicts and violence “which are dangers that can only be confronted with solidarity and brotherhood among all members of the human family”.

“The importance of this resolution is that it makes the realisation of human fraternity a global solidarity responsibility, as the whole world shares in the realisation of these sublime principles, and every year it renews ideas and visions for its realisation, so that it becomes inspiring for tolerance and coexistence,” he said.

For details see www.HumanFraternityDay.org.

The meeting will be broadcast in several languages from 2.30 pm (Rome time), 11.30pm AEST on 4 February on the Vatican News website.

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