Pope’s endeavors to instill harmony among religions worldwide

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Pope’s endeavors to instill harmony among religions worldwide

By Kassidy Hall and Kimberly Horton/ en.abouna.org

Today, February 4, 2020, marks the one year anniversary of the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.

During His Holiness Pope Francis’ first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, the document was signed in Abu Dhabi on February 4, 2019, by the head of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt.

In its introduction, the document “invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.”

On the basis of their “religious and moral responsibility,” the document calls into action world leaders, believers, and non-believers alike in the “name of justice and mercy”.

The Document on Human Fraternity denounces terrorism, declaring that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility, or extremism. It encourages good relations between the East and the West, acknowledging that healthy international relations are necessary for understanding and cooperation. It also calls on support for women’s education and employment, the rights of support, nutrition, and education for children, and the rights for the elderly, weak, disabled, and oppressed.

In the declaration’s conclusion, the leaders’ intentions are summarized with the aspiration that it “may be a witness to the greatness of faith in God that unites divided hearts and elevates the human soul.”

After its public announcement, the declaration gained further support from the United Arab Emirates. A vision has been cast by the newly formed Higher Committee of Human Fraternity for the construction of the Abrahamic Family House, which will consist of a mosque, church, synagogue, and education center. The landmark’s anticipated completed date is in 2020 and will be built on Saadiyat Island of Abu Dhabi to host a range of programming and events within and between each of the religious groups.

Education remains a crucial part of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity and many other interfaith initiatives. The proposed education plans are intended to be relational in nature while showcasing the diversity of the region and the world, transforming students of all generations into global citizens and leading them into positive relationships with diversity.

In another interreligious motion, Pope Francis visited Thailand in November 2019 to encourage members of the Church there, as well as to meet with Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn and the supreme patriarch of Thai Buddhists, Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong.

On the same day that he led a Holy Mass for Roman Catholics in Bangkok, Pope Francis visited the Wat Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Temple to meet with the Buddhist patriarch.

During his visit to the temple, Pope Francis praised the positive effects of Buddhism he has observed in the country, saying, "The majority of Thais have drunk deeply from the sources of Buddhism, which have imbued their way of venerating life and their ancestors, and leading a sober lifestyle based on contemplation, detachment, hard work, and discipline.”

Days later, on a decidedly more somber visit to Nagasaki, Japan, the Pope declared, “The Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to promoting peace between peoples and nations.” His visit to Japan included stops at both atomic bomb sites, as well as a ceremony attended by twenty survivors of the Hiroshima bombing.

“Peace and international stability,” the Pope said during an address, “are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation.”

Though his official role is acting as the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has managed to take up an even larger mantle of interreligious unity during the time he has held the highest influential position in the Church. In this way, he has become a symbol for more than simply Christianity -- instead, he represents a renewed effort among religious leaders to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly alongside one another, a call for unity that extends beyond parish walls or the pages of Scripture.

Doctrine is a vital component of faith, but Lord Jesus Christ’s words slice through semantics and charge us to, no matter the faith of our brothers, “Love the Lord your God” and “love your neighbor as yourself”. These endeavors to make the nations our neighbors point to a greater initiative the Church is being called to -- and Pope Francis is taking up a vital position in showing believers ways that they, too, can answer that call.

Tue, 02/04/2020 - 14:33
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