The Pope and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar have launched the Human Fraternity Document calling on people across the globe to unite to bring about inter-faith harmony and spread a vital message of peace.
The blueprint to "guide future generations" to advance a "culture of mutual respect" spanning all nationalities, backgrounds and beliefs was unveiled after Pope Francis and Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, revered figures in the Catholic and Muslim faiths, met at the Global Conference of Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
The Document was signed by both men at the Founder's Memorial in the capital and in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed.
Both the Pope and the Grand Imam have said their mission statement for a more unified world, free from the scourge of terrorism, with equal rights for women and appreciation for all religions and places of worship, should be the "object of research and reflection in all schools, universities and institutes of formation, to helping to educate new generations to bring goodness and peace to others".
The document is described as a "joint declaration of good and heartfelt aspirations".
The Human Fraternity document pledges to uphold the following principles:
- The firm conviction that authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace; to defend the values of mutual understanding, human fraternity and harmonious coexistence.
- Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action.
- Justice based on mercy is the path to follow in order to achieve a dignified life to which every human being has a right.
- Dialogue, understanding and the widespread promotion of a culture of tolerance, acceptance of others and of living together peacefully would contribute significantly to reducing many economic, social, political and environmental problems.
- Dialogue among believers means coming together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values and, from here, transmitting the highest moral virtues that religions aim for.
- The protection of places of worship – synagogues, churches and mosques – is a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements.
- Terrorism is deplorable and threatens the security of people, be they in the East or the West, the North or the South, and disseminates panic, terror and pessimism, but this is not due to religion, even when terrorists instrumentalise it. It is due, rather, to an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride.
- The concept of citizenship is based on the equality of rights and duties, under which all enjoy justice. It is therefore crucial to establish in our societies the concept of full citizenship and reject the discriminatory use of the term minorities which engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority.
- Good relations between East and West are indisputably necessary for both. They must not be neglected, so that each can be enriched by the other's culture through fruitful exchange and dialogue.
- It is an essential requirement to recognise the right of women to education and employment, and to recognise their freedom to exercise their own political rights. Moreover, efforts must be made to free women from historical and social conditioning that runs contrary to the principles of their faith and dignity.
- The protection of the fundamental rights of children to grow up in a family environment, to receive nutrition, education and support, are duties of the family and society. Such duties must be guaranteed and protected so that they are not overlooked or denied to any child in any part of the world.
- The protection of the rights of the elderly, the weak, the disabled, and the oppressed is a religious and social obligation that must be guaranteed and defended through strict legislation and the implementation of the relevant international agreements.
For the full text of the Document visit the Human Fraternity Meeting website.
The Pope in the UAE