The 4th February 2020 there has been the first anniversary of the Document on Human Fraternity signed a year ago from both Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar.
I had the chance to meet Monsignor Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, who has served since 2014 as the second personal secretary of Pope Francis and played an important role in the dialog between the Holy See and the Muslim world. Seeing that there was no communication between the Catholic Church and Islam he worked hard – by the side of Pope Francis – to reduce the hostilities and the distances between the two religions.
In fact, the Document on Human Fraternity aims at pushing all those people who have faith in God and in human fraternity to unite and work together, in order to serve as a guide for future generations to headway a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that – independently from a person’s own religion and beliefs – makes all human beings brothers and sisters.
The first goal of the Document was to create a deep bond between the two religions – that in the past kept distances one from the other – and secondly to develop the general knowledge that if we are all different is because God wanted to. So, there is no reason to wage religious wars; on the contrary, we all shall work together for a peaceful future. The Document is, in fact, concerned with how different faiths can live peaceably in the same world and areas.
The Document on Human fraternity suggests one chain of causality for religious and national extremism: “a moral deterioration” in international action and “a weakening of spiritual values” which might lead to frustration, isolation and desperation, bringing some to fall into a vortex of extremism and causing individual or collective self-destruction. Furthermore, it upholds different values that should be at the basis of international relations and not just at the basis of an agreement between two religions.
In fact, the document emphasizes the importance of peace, freedom of every person, justice based on mercy and concerns about the importance of a dialogue in order to achieve peace and tolerance, avoiding unproductive discussions. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of protecting places of worship and the necessity to stop terrorism. Moreover, the document upholds some important rights, including those concerning women, children, the elderly, the weak, the disabled and the oppressed.
The core of the Document is to protect, all together, minorities, children and those who cannot defend themselves, while also improving the relations between East and West.
According to the Document on Human Fraternity, both Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar worked together on the creation of The Higher Committee on Human Fraternity where Monsignor Gaid is one of the first members and part of the executive board. The committee aims at building in Abu Dhabi a so called “Abrahamic Family House”.
Monsignor Gaid explained me the core of this project. It will be, in fact, a beacon of mutual understanding, harmonious coexistence and peace among people of faith and goodwill. The Abrahamic Family House will consist in three major buildings – a Mosque, a Church and a Synagogue – and an educational center, all united by the same road in order to underline the intention of the religions to work and coexist all together. The goal is to create a place where to learn, dialogue and worship highlighting the religions’ beliefs in hospitality and tolerance. The educational center will not be affiliated with any religion and people can unite as a single community devoted to a mutual understanding and peace.
After one year from the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity, the relationship between Islam and the Catholic Church looks more like a deep friendship than just a cooperation.
Article written by Alessia Perretti