02/06/2019, 11.25
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Pope: Emirates trip marks new page in Christian-Muslim dialogue

At the general audience, Francis retraces his recent journey. In the Document on Human Fraternity, "together we affirm the common vocation of all men and women to be brothers and sisters as sons and daughters of God, condemn all forms of violence, especially those with religious motivation, and we commit ourselves to spreading authentic values ​​and peace in the world ".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis’ journey of to the United Arab Emirates "has written a new page in the history of dialogue between Christianity and Islam and in the commitment to promote peace in the world on the basis of human fraternity". The Pope himself said in his speech for today's general audience.

In the words addressed to the seven thousand people present in the Paul VI hall, Francis emphasized the value of fraternity founded on the common origin of God and the common visions of mankind and society contained in the document signed together with the Great Imam of Azhar.

Francis also spoke of last Saturday’s sinking of a boat off the archipelago of the Bahamas, “with dozens of migrants coming from Haiti and looking for hope and a future of peace. My thoughts - he said - goes to the families suffering from the pain, as well as to the Haitian people struck by this new tragedy. I invite you to join my prayer for those who died dramatically and for the injured ".

Francis dwelt on the "short but very important" trip linked to the 2017 meeting in Al-Azhar, Egypt.

"For the first time - he continued - a Pope has traveled to the Arabian peninsula. And Providence wanted it to be a Pope by the name of Francis, 800 years after the visit of St. Francis of Assisi to the sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. I often thought of Saint Francis during this journey: he helped me to keep the Gospel, the love of Jesus Christ in my heart, while I was experiencing the various moments of the visit; in my heart there was the Gospel of Christ, prayer to the Father for all his children, especially for the poorest, for the victims of injustices, wars, misery ...; prayer so that the dialogue between Christianity and Islam is a decisive factor for peace in today's world ".

Francis then thanked the Arab authorities for their welcome and Msgr. Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of South Arabia, "who prepared and organized the event for the Catholic community". The Pope spoke of greeting the first priest who went to those lands; “he is blind and in the wheelchair, but he has such a smile ...".

The Pope then emphasized that in his address after talks with the authorities, speaking at the interreligious meeting in Abu Dhabi, "I focused attention on the value of fraternity founded on the common origin of God, from which the inviolable dignity of each person is derived. Therefore, it is impossible to justify any act of violence in the name of God; rather, it offends it gravely and contradicts the spirit of religion. But how can we really protect the human family as brothers and sisters? This is possible through the courage of otherness, dialogue and prayer. Only in this way can the dove of peace really take flight, with the two wings of education and justice ".

"In addition to the speeches, in Abu Dhabi, one more step has been taken: The Great Imam of Al-Azhar and I have signed the document on the Human Fraternity, in which together we affirm the common vocation of all men and women to be brothers and sisters as children of God, we condemn all forms of violence, especially those with religious motivations, and we commit ourselves to spreading authentic values ​​and peace in the world. This document will be studied in the schools and universities of many countries "It will be used to increase human fraternity. In an era like ours, in which the temptation to see a clash between Christian and Islamic civilizations is strong, and also to consider religions as sources of conflict, we wanted to give a further, clear and decisive sign, that instead it encounter is possible, respect and dialogue is possible, and that, despite the diversity of cultures and traditions, the Christian and Islamic world appreciate and protect common values: life, family, religious sense, honor for the elderly, the education of young people, and others".

Francis also recalled that  "about one million Christians live" in the United Arab Emirates, "even more: workers originally from various countries of Asia". At the celebration of Mass: there "were very many! They say the stadium has a capacity of 40 thousand and then they say there were 150 thousand following on the giant screens outside". "I  concelebrated Mass with the patriarchs, the major archbishops and the bishops present, we prayed especially for peace and justice, with special intention for the Middle East and Yemen".

"This journey - he concluded - belongs to the "surprises" of God. We therefore praise Him and His providence, and pray that the scattered seeds will bear fruit according to His holy will".

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