Pope Francis meets judges of Zayed Award for Human Fraternity

The pontiff spoke to the judging committee of the award, which comes with $1 million prize

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Pope Francis met the judges of an award set up to recognise people and organisations who strive for human progress.

During a meeting in Rome, the pontiff thanked the judging committee of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity, which was established after the Pope's historic visit to Abu Dhabi last year.

The honour was named after Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father of the UAE, whose "values of humility, humanitarianism and respect epitomise the enduring ideals it seeks to celebrate".

Pope Francis and Ahmed El Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar, were the first recipients last year, after they signed the Document on Human Fraternity in the Emirati capital on February 4.

Pope Francis thanked the judges and called on them to identify people who can continue their humanitarian efforts after winning the award, which comes with $1 million in prize money.

I have shared bread with my brother, the Grand Imam Al Tayeb, and I want you to help humankind, with the committee, to share bread

“I have shared bread with my brother, the Grand Imam El Tayeb, and I want you to help humankind, with the committee, to share bread," he said at the meeting.

"I will pray for you and I hope you that you will pray for me."

This is the first year the Zayed Award is open for nominations, which can be made by senior members of government, former heads of state, supreme court judges, UN leaders, leading academic and cultural figures, heads of NGOs and the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity itself.

The judging committee comprises five members, as well as the secretary general of the higher committee, Judge Mohamed Abdel Salam, a highly regarded Egyptian lawyer and senior representative of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar.

The full panel is comprised:

  • Catherine Samba-Panza, former president of the Central African Republic
  • Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, former vice president of Indonesia
  • Michaelle Jean, former governor-general of Canada
  • Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Catholic Church's highest judicial authority
  • Adama Dieng, former UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide

  • Mohamed Abdel Salam, secretary general of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity

Speaking to The National last week, Mr Dieng said the award came at a time of great suffering around the globe.

"Our world is suffering and this award will help recognise people and institutions and bring everyone together to advance humanity and peace," he said.

“The award is an opportunity to recognise people around the world who are deeply committed to initiatives that bring people together and promote peaceful co-existence.

“The judging committee will consider people or entities any where in the world who are leading by example.”

The nomination process for the 2021 award opened on October 19 and will close on December 1. The recipient or recipients will be announced on February 4, 2021.

Pope Francis visit to Abu Dhabi, February 5, 2019 - in pictures