United Arab Emirates - Christians and Muslims: "dialogue as a way; common collaboration as a conduit; mutual knowledge as a method"

05 February 2019
Photo: © Vatican Media

(ANS - Abu Dhabi) - In the eighth centenary of the meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and the sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil, once again a Francis journeyed to meet some of the leading Islamic authorities; and dialogue was indeed the cornerstone of the Argentine Pope's journey. Yesterday, 4 February, at the end of the interreligious meeting in the "Founder's Memorial" of Abu Dhabi, the Holy Father and the Imam of Al-Azhar Ahamad al-Tayyib - the greatest doctrinal authority of Sunni Islam - signed a common document on "Human Brotherhood for World Peace and common coexistence."


There are several new elements of this apostolic trip to the United Arab Emirates: for the first time a Pope has set foot in the Arabian Peninsula, for the first time a great public Eucharist was celebrated throughout the peninsula (with over 135,000 faithful present, mostly foreign immigrants), and emerging for the first time a document so articulate and demanding on the dialogue between Christianity and Islam, for the benefit of the whole human brotherhood.

In their fifth meeting, in fact, the Imam of Al-Azhar and the Roman Pontiff, "in the name of God, who created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity", in the name of the poor, orphans and widows, in the name of brotherhood, of liberty and of justice, have declared, on behalf of their respective communities of believers, to want "to adopt the culture of dialogue as a way; common collaboration as a conduit; mutual knowledge as a method and criterion."

Numerous, strong and demanding are the steps of the document signed by the two religious authorities: from the firm declaration "that religions never incite war and do not solicit feelings of hatred, hostility, extremism", to the appeal to the leaders of nations to protect the family as the "fundamental nucleus of society and humanity"; from the condemnation of extremism and intolerance, which produced "a third world war in pieces, fragments", to the call for an equitable distribution of resources; from the protection of the fundamental rights of women and children and to the protection of the elderly; up to the promotion of the religious sense and to the recognition of the role of religions in the construction of world peace.

The document, which wants to be an invitation to reconciliation and brotherhood not only among believers, but among all people of good will, aims to be the object of research and reflection in all schools, universities and institutes of education and Christian and Islamic formation.

The project of Pope Francis to "start processes", rather than "occupy spaces", marks another, very important step forward.

The full text of the declaration is available here.


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