ROME: Pope Francis will celebrate the UN’s first International Day of Human Fraternity on Feb. 4 with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed.
Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and other public figures will also take part in the event, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue said.
The Zayed Award for Human Fraternity will be given that day, with the meeting and ceremony streamed live in several languages.
The prize was inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity that the pope signed with Al-Tayyeb in Abu Dhabi during his inaugural visit to the Arabian peninsula two years ago.
“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,” Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot MCCJ, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, told a press conference.
“In October 2020, that invitation became even more vivid with the encyclical ‘Fratelli Tutti.’ These meetings are a way to achieve true social friendship.”
It was on Feb. 4 2019, during his trip to the UAE, that the pope signed the Document on Human Fraternity.
He and the grand imam had spent nearly six months drafting the document before announcing it together during the historic visit.
The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity was established to translate the document’s aspirations into sustained engagement and concrete actions to foster fraternity, solidarity, respect and mutual understanding.
It is planning an Abrahamic Family House – featuring a synagogue, a church and a mosque – on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island.
It has established an independent jury to receive nominations for the Zayed Award and choose winners whose work demonstrates a lifelong commitment to human fraternity. The award carries a $1 million prize.
The committee comprises different international religious leaders, scholars and cultural leaders who were inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity and are dedicated to sharing its message of mutual understanding and peace.
Their work is to act concretely according to the aspirations of the document and to spread the values of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.
The committee’s secretary-general is Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam.
Last December the UN General Assembly unanimously declared Feb. 4 as the International Day of Human Fraternity.
Pope Francis has encouraged the Holy See to join in the celebration of International Human Fraternity Day under the leadership of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, a Vatican institution founded in 1964 by Pope Paul VI with the aim of working on relations and dialogue between the Catholic Church and the faithful of other religions.
“This is a further evidence of Pope Francis’ commitment to interreligious dialogue,” Archbishop Carlo Maria Celli, former president of the Vatican Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told Arab News. “A commitment confirmed also by the visit that the Holy Father will hold in Iraq between 5 and 8 March, when we all expect he will deliver a powerful message.”
The papal itinerary in Iraq, at the invitation of the Iraqi government and the local Catholic Church, will include Baghdad, Irbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh.
He will also visit the ancient city of Ur, said to be the birthplace of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish patriarch Ibrahim.
It will be the pope’s first overseas trip since Nov. 2019, when he traveled to Thailand and Japan, and his first trip to the Middle East since Feb. 2019, when he visited the UAE and celebrated Mass in front of 180,000 people at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.