The proposal is the culmination of a project between the two leaders to spread tolerance and preach peace.
Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayyeb have sent a message to the United Nations that they would like February 4 to be declared “World Day of Human Fraternity.”
The proposal is the product of an initiative to foster greater tolerance and peace among people of different faiths. That initiative began as discussions between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam on how to advance a “culture of mutual respect.”
On February 4, 2019, these talks culminated in a jointly-signed document, the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”
In that document, the Pope and Grand Imam affirmed, among other things:
- “The firm conviction that authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace.”
- “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 that weigh so heavily on a large part of humanity;”
- “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 instrumentalize it.”
- “The right of women to education and employment, and to recognize their freedom to exercise their own political rights.”
- “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.”
- “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.”
According to a Vatican News report, members of the High Committee established to carry out the intentions in the document presented the proposal to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Dr. António Guterres.
Guterres “expressed his appreciation for and openness to the initiative, underlining the importance of working in the service of the whole of humanity,” reported Vatican News.
He also appointed Dr. Adama Dieng, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Hate Speech and the Prevention of Genocide, as the United Nations Representative to follow the proposed activities and to collaborate with the High Committee.