02/04/2021, 16.51
VATICAN – UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
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Pope: Fraternity is the challenge of our times, either we are brothers or we are enemies

Pope Francis joined the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, UN Secretary General António Guterres, and other prominent figures, including EU Council President Charles Michel, to take part in the celebrations marking the first International Day of Human Fraternity, established by the UN Assembly.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Fraternity today is “the new frontier of humanity”. “It is the challenge of our times”. “Either we are brothers or we are enemies”.

Today is the first International Day of Human Fraternity, as established by the UN Assembly. It is held on 4 February to mark the meeting in 2019 between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, who signed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and living Together in Abu Dhabi.

The virtual ceremony was held in Abu Dhabi, and broadcast live by Vatican News, with the first Zayed Prize, inspired by the Document on Fraternity, awarded.

Pope Francis was present along with Al-Tayyeb, the highest Sunni cleric, Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, who is the general secretary of the High Committee for Human Fraternity, whom Francis described as the “enfant terrible” of this project.  United Nations Secretary General António Guterres was also in attendance, as were other prominent figures, like EU Council President Charles Michel.

In his address, Pope Francis called Al-Tayyeb “my brother, my friend, my companion in challenges and risks in the struggle for Fraternity”

For the pontiff, the alternative to fraternity is not indifference, but enmity. “Either we are brothers or we destroy each other. Today there is no time for indifference. We cannot be indifferent, at a distance, careless, disinterested. Either we are brothers or everything collapses. It is the frontier. The frontier on which we must build; it is the challenge of our century; it is the challenge of our times.”

“Fraternity means an outstretched hand; fraternity means respect. Fraternity means listening with an open heart. Fraternity means firmness in one's convictions. For there is no true fraternity if you negotiate your beliefs.

“We are brothers, born of the same Father. With different cultures, traditions, but all brothers. While respecting our different cultures and traditions, our different citizenships, we need to build this fraternity. Not by negotiating it. It is time to listen. It is time for sincere acceptance. It is time for certainty that a world without brothers is a world of enemies.

“I want to emphasise this. We cannot say: either brothers or not brothers. Let's face it: either brothers or enemies. Because neglect is a very subtle form of enmity. There is no need for a war to make enemies. Neglect is enough. Enough with this technique – it has become a technique; enough with this attitude of looking the other way, not caring about the other, as if he didn't exist.”

Francis also congratulated the two winners of the Zayed Prize: the UN Secretary General António Guterres, and Latifa Ibn Ziaten, founder of an association for youth and peace.

The pontiff thanked Guterres “for all the efforts you make for peace. A peace that can only be obtained with a fraternal heart.”

Francis then turned to Latifa Ibn Ziaten, a mother of five who created an association named after her son Imad, killed in an act of terrorism.

He told her that when she says “we are all brothers,” this “is a conviction shaped in pain, in your wounds. You have spent your life for smiling, you have spent your life for non-resentment; through the pain of losing a child – only a mother knows what it means to lose a child, through this pain you have the courage to say 'we are all brothers' and sow words of love.

“Thank you for your testimony. Thank you for being the mother of your son, of many boys and girls; for being today the mother of this humanity that is listening to you and learning from you: either [we follow] the path of fraternity, as brothers, or we lose everything. Thank you, thank you.”

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