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Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in 2019 (CNS/Paul Haring)

Dialogue, solidarity and recognising each other as brothers and sisters are key to defeating “the dark shadows of injustice, hatred and war”, Pope Francis said on Sunday. Source: CNS.

The Pope made the remarks in a message read at a ceremony to confer the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity, an award created to honour people who live the values promoted in the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, which he and Egyptian Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar, signed on February 4, 2019.

On behalf of Catholics and Muslims, the document pledged “the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard” for relations between the two communities.

The Pope and the Sheikh, the leader of the most prestigious centre of learning for Sunni Muslims, said that believing in one God, the creator of all, also means recognising that all people are brothers and sisters.

In an unusual letter addressed to “my Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel” on February 2, Pope Francis made a similar point.

In 2020, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed an annual International Day of Human Fraternity to be celebrated every February 4, the anniversary of the Pope and the Sheikh signing their document.

In his message for the 2024 celebration, António Guterres, UN secretary-general, said the day is an occasion to “celebrate the spirit of mutual respect and solidarity that binds us together as one human family”.

“Today, these values are being severely tested. Our world is marred by divisions, conflicts, and inequalities. Discrimination is running rampant,” Mr Guterres said. “We must come together to protect and uphold human rights, combat hate speech and violent extremism, and push back against those who profit from fear.”


Pope marks five years after important document on human fraternity (By Cindy Wooden, CNS via OSV News)