Indonesian Muslim, Christian religious chiefs back call for human fraternity day

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Pope Francis greets Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, after signing documents

Indonesian Muslim, Christian religious chiefs back call for human fraternity day

ucanews.org

Catholic and Muslim leaders in Indonesia are backing calls by the Vatican’s high committee for human fraternity for the United Nations to declare a World Day of Human Fraternity, saying it will spur interfaith cooperation to deal with social issues.

The committee was established in August to achieve the objectives contained in the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” signed on Feb. 4 by Pope Francis and the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Committee members, led by their chairman Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, met UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York last week to propose that Feb. 4 be declared World Day of Human Fraternity.

Guterres, according to the Holy See press office, expressed his appreciation for and openness to the initiative, underlining the importance of working in the service of the whole of humanity.

He also appointed Adama Dieng, his special adviser on hate speech and the prevention of genocide, as the UN representative to look at the proposal.

“The [Vatican committee’s] proposal is good. It reminds us that we all are, indeed, brothers and sisters, no matter what our backgrounds are. Human fraternity should be materialized by all people from different religious backgrounds,” Bishop Yohanes Harun Yuwono of Tanjungkarang, chairman of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, told ucanews on Dec. 9.

If the proposal is approved by the UN, it will have positive impacts on Indonesian society, he said.

“There will be common movements to create harmony and interreligious cooperation in order to deal with social issues,” the prelate said without giving further details.

This might not be easy to achieve, he said, as there might be objections from more radical elements. “Still, if we have a sincere heart and continue to do good things for others, people will finally follow,” he said.

Indonesian bishops highlighted human fraternity in their annual meeting last month in Bandung in West Java province. The resulting statement from the meeting said Indonesia needed to learn the message within the Abu Dhabi document.

In its conclusion, the Abu Dhabi document highlights several aspirations including “an invitation to reconciliation and fraternity among all believers … and non-believers, and among all people of goodwill.”

Similar support came from Iqbal Sulam, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, which has committed itself to honoring the Abu Dhabi document.

He said the Vatican committee’s proposal would create “a safe and healthy world.”

“It will not only create more social welfare but also help in the elimination of nuclear weapons in the world. Other social issues like environmental destruction, global warming and climate change can also be dealt with. This is what human fraternity is really about,” he said.

Meanwhile, Yulius Setiarto, secretary of the Jakarta-based Indonesian Catholic Society Forum, said the World Day of Human Fraternity proposal “will spur the international community into taking efforts to build ‘true fraternity’ in the world, particularly in conflict areas” because “the UN can play a significant role in this goal.”

Sun, 12/15/2019 - 16:37
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