Observance of the Inaugural
International Day of Human Fraternity: A Pathway to the Future
New York, 4 February 2021
I would like to begin by thanking the Permanent Missions of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) for sponsoring this event marking the first annual observance of the International Day of Human Fraternity.
The General Assembly chose February 4th as the International Day of Human Fraternity because of its association with the date ofthe meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib which took place two years ago today in Abu Dhabi, which happily coincided with the World Interfaith Harmony Week. Thatmeeting resulted in the signing of the landmark Document entitled, “Human fraternity for world peace and living together,” inviting people of faith and all those of good will to work together to advance a culture of mutual respect, fraternity, reconciliation, dialogue and collaboration for peace. It was particularly heartening to witness the two main protagonists take part in a virtual commemoration earlier this morning, at which the Secretary-General of the United Nations also delivered remarks and who, along with Mrs. Latifah Ibn Ziaten, foundress of the Imad Association for Youth and Peace, was the recipient of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity. The Document itself contains a special summons for believers of different religions to show, in the face of violence, the importance of the life of faith and the positive role people of faith play in society. A crucial requirement for the contribution of believers in society remains that they can profess their faith freely and practice their religious beliefs according to their conscience and without any pressure or constraint.
Pope Francis elaborated on this call for dialogue and reconciliation among people of different religions in his recent encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti. The Holy Fatherstated that “authentic social dialogue involves the ability to respect the other’s point of view and to admit that it may include legitimate convictions and concerns”and is based on the pursuit of truth and not just a “feverish exchange of opinions.”As the Pontiff reminded us earlier today, there cannot be true fraternity by negotiating one’s true convictions.The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for such authentic social dialogue as we strive to meet together the challenges of today and tomorrow.
The “authentic teachings of religions,” the Document on Human Fraternity underlines, can provide hope and inspiration, inviting us “to remain rooted in the value of peace; to defend the values of mutual understanding and harmonious coexistence; to re-establish wisdom, justice and love; and to reawaken religious awareness among young people.”
Pope Francis has just stressed the importance of fraternity and the need to stand up for it, envisioning true fraternity as the new frontier for humanity, the great challenge of our time. May today’s virtual gathering and celebration help us advance, through sincere and open dialogue,along this pathway to a future of greater solidarity, reconciliation and peace as all of us, believers and non-believers alike, bear witness to our belonging to the one human family.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, 3 October 2020, n. 203.
Fratelli Tutti, n. 201.
Cf. Pope Francis, Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, “A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”.