Archbishop Hinder: the encyclical 'Fratelli tutti' a source of pride for the Muslims of Arabia

The vicar of Arabia underlines the link between the latest encyclical of Pope Francis, the text signed with the imam of al-Azhar in February 2019 and "the encouragement received from a non-Christian". Respect for the person and protection of the migrant, the parable of the Good Samaritan are aspects that unite the faithful of all religions. Finding answers to challenges and injustices.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) - For the Church of Arabia and the nations of the Gulf, the "greatest value" of Pope Bergoglio's encyclical "Fratelli tutti" is the "link" with the document signed in Abu Dhabi in February 2019 with the 'imam of al-Azhar and "with the figure of St. Francis," says Msgr. Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen) and apostolic administrator of the vacant see of northern Arabia (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain).

He explains that the pontiff "makes more than a reminder of the meeting with Sheikh al-Tayyib" and underlines "his universal brotherhood. For the first time, a pope refers in an encyclical to the encouragement received from a non-Christian: a surprising fact that should fill Muslims in our area with pride ".

Msgr. Hinder underlines that the document “is important for our region, even if so far there have been no official reactions, not even in the English-language press. This fact surprises me - he adds - because the text is really stimulating, but perhaps not everyone has the patience enough to read the entire document. In reality, everyone in the world should [do it and] take his part, because the pope gives a complete analysis of the problematic situation that exists today in the world and, without accusing anyone, invites a process of revision of the social bond and challenges of a political, climatic and justice nature that we must face. There are no nations in the world that are not 'provoked' by this encyclical ".

In the Gulf  the presence of migrants as a workforce and also within the Church itself is predominant, thus the Pope's invitation to "respect for the person is important". He shows that he supports “the weakest, those who cannot defend their rights and deserve more attention. This is true in all countries in the world, not only in Italy, even if there has been enormous progress here at least at the regulatory level "although in practice" distinctions must be made between what the law officially says and what happens in the reality of everyday".

The media, including those of the vicariate, have the “task of making this encyclical known as much as possible”, underlines Msgr. Hinder. “It will be necessary to tear it up, dividing the text by themes - he continues - because not everyone has the patience to read such a long text. On the vicariate website we will insert and comment on some passages to make known the basic contents. And then there are the homilies and seminars via the web, these are also important channels for spreading the text and making it known to as many people as possible”.

The vicar of Arabia highlights the importance of the reference to the parable of the Good Samaritan which "does not represent a Christian element only, because it is a parable that can be understood and implemented by each of us. In this regard, I heard the comment of a Muslim leader in Geneva [Switzerland, nation of origin of the prelate] who said that this reference challenges us as faithful of Islam, it is not only valid for Christians but for all those who want find answers to the social challenges, injustice, suffering of today. I would say that he has centred the question”.

He recalls the call for "dialogue", which is fundamental when there are timid attempts at detente [read: diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel - ed.] Between nations that must "be united with the understanding between peoples, former enemies but that today must find a common fund”. Finally, the last passage is aimed at the theme of evangelization "which must start from encounter and dialogue", overcoming the practical problems "not least the Covid-19 pandemic which has made contacts and relationships increasingly difficult.”

“Some parishes - he concludes - have resumed part of the celebrations, but even if they cannot return to normal, we must remind people that we are a sacramental Church that always has something to touch: bread, holy water, wine, 'laying on of hands… things that disappeared overnight”.