Pope Francis addresses the Human Fraternity Meeting at the Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi on Monday, and confirms how, “God is with those who seek peace”.
Monday’s Interreligious Meeting took place within the context of the Global Conference of Human Fraternity, currently underway in Abu Dhabi. The Conference has brought together hundreds of religious leaders and scholars. It is dedicated to examining interfaith dialogue, religious freedom, combatting extremism, and promoting peace. All of these themes were present in Pope Francis’ discourse, which he delivered at the Founder’s Memorial, before some of the highest authorities in the United Arab Emirates, and members of the Diplomatic Corps. Pope Francis began by describing himself as “a believer thirsting for peace”. Speaking about the Interreligious Meeting itself, the Pope continued: “We are here to desire peace, to promote peace, to be instruments of peace”.
The Ark of Fraternity
Referencing the biblical story of Noah, the Pope suggested that, in order to safeguard peace, we too “need to enter together as one family into an ark which can sail the stormy seas of the world”. This means acknowledging, “God is at the origin of the one human family”. “No violence can be justified in the name of religion”, he said. “Religious behavior”, said Pope Francis, “needs continually to be purified from the recurrent temptation to judge others as enemies and adversaries”. The “perspective of heaven”, he said, “embraces persons without privilege or discrimination”. Expressing his “appreciation” for the commitment of the United Arab Emirates “to tolerating and guaranteeing freedom of worship, to confronting extremism and hatred”, the Pope then posed the question: “How do we look after each other in the one human family?”.
The Courage of Otherness
Pope Francis proposed what he called “the courage of otherness”: recognizing the freedom and fundamental rights of others. “Without freedom”, he said, “we are no longer children of the human family, but slaves”. Religious freedom, he continued, is not just freedom of worship: it means seeing the other as “a child of my own humanity whom God leaves free, and whom no human institution can coerce, not even in God’s name”.
Dialogue and Prayer
Pope Francis then turned to the importance of dialogue and prayer. Prayer, he said, “purifies the heart from turning in on itself. Prayer of the heart restores fraternity”. Encouraging religions to “exert themselves with courage and audacity” in building paths of peace: “We will either build the future together”, he said, “or there will be no future”.
By Seán-Patrick Lovett
Vatican News (Extract)