Justice and peace are inseparable, Pope Francis says in UAE

By Hannah Brockhaus

Share |
Increase font size Decrease font size

Pope Francis and Ahmed el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, sign a joint declaration on human fraternity during an interreligious meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Feb. 4, 2019. Credit: Vatican Media.

In an interreligious meeting in Abu Dhabi Monday, Pope Francis said that for peace to flourish among religions, there must be justice, and respect for human dignity and freedom.

“Justice is the second wing of peace. No one, therefore, can believe in God and not seek to live in justice with everyone, according to the Golden Rule,” the pope said Feb. 4. “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”

“Peace and justice are inseparable!”

Speaking at Abu Dhabi’s “Founder’s Monument,” which commemorates the founder and first president of the United Arab Emirates, Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the pope emphasized that is the task of religions to promote human dignity, particularly for the least and the poor.

Religions “should keep watch as sentinels of fraternity in the night of conflict. They should be vigilant warnings to humanity not to close our eyes in the face of injustice and never to resign ourselves to the many tragedies in the world,” he said.

This “human fraternity” also comes with the duty of rejecting and condemning war, he stated, noting its “miserable crudeness” and “fateful consequences.”

“I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya,” he said. “Together, as brothers and sisters in the one human family willed by God, let us commit ourselves against the logic of armed power … let us oppose all this with the sweet power of prayer and daily commitment to dialogue.”

Pope Francis, the first pope to visit the Arabian peninsula, is in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, Feb. 3-5 to promote interreligious dialogue and give support to the country’s Christian minority.

Before the interreligious meeting, he met for around 30 minutes with the Muslim Council of Elders. He then visited the city’s Grand Mosque with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, before paying his respects at Zayed's tomb.

At the interreligious meeting, the pope praised last November’s meeting, the first, of the Forum of the Interreligious Alliance for Safer Communities, which was on the theme of child dignity in the digital world.

“I thank, therefore, all the leaders who are engaged in this field,” he said, “and I assure them of my support, solidarity and participation and that of the Catholic Church, in this very important cause of the protection of minors in all its forms.”

Reflecting on interreligious dialogue, he said the point of departure is recognizing God as the origin of “one human family,” that “He who is the Creator of all things and of all persons wants us to live as brothers and sisters, dwelling in the common home of creation which he has given us.”

Francis pointed out that to honor the creator requires valuing the sacredness of each human life, “equally precious in the eyes of God.”

“Thus, to recognize the same rights for every human being is to glorify the name of God on earth. In the name of God the Creator, therefore, every form of violence must be condemned without hesitation, because we gravely profane God’s name when we use it to justify hatred and violence against a brother or sister,” he said.

An important part of effective dialogue and human fraternity is prayer, he said. It “purifies the heart from turning in on itself. Prayer of the heart restores fraternity.”

Quoting The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, he said: “May our prayer – each one according to his or her own tradition – adhere fully to the will of God, who wants all men and women to recognize they are brothers and sisters and live as such, forming the great human family in the harmony of diversity.”

“There is no alternative: we will either build the future together or there will not be a future,” he continued. “The time has come when religions should more actively exert themselves, with courage and audacity, and without pretense, to help the human family deepen the capacity for reconciliation, the vision of hope and the concrete paths of peace.”

During the meeting, Pope Francis and Tayeb signed a joint declaration “on human fraternity for world peace and living together,” asking that the document “become the object of research and reflection in all schools, universities and institutes of formation.”

The four-and-a-half-page declaration condemned issues such as the taking of innocent human life, terrorism, world hunger, materialism, and a lack of equitable distribution of natural resources.

It also stated that the family is “the fundamental nucleus of society and humanity,” and noted that to attack, to regard with contempt, or to doubt the importance of the institution of the family “is one of the most threatening evils of our era.”

“In conclusion, our aspiration is that … this Declaration may be a sign of the closeness between East and West, between North and South, and between all who believe that God has created us to understand one another, cooperate with one another and live as brothers and sisters who love one another,” it stated.

Share |
Increase font size Decrease font size