Catholics and Shias before the future
His Eminence Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot

8-10 March 2023


Dear participants,
Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I’m honoured, without any rhetoric, to be here, especially to convey the Holy Father’s message to Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini al-Sistani two years after their encounter in Najaf.

Tomorrow, 9th of March at 9:30, the Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani will receive me with Prof. Andrea Riccardi. Together we will hand him the Message from Pope Francis, which I received from him personally.

I am also delighted to participate in this meeting jointly organized by the The Imam Al-Khoei Foundation and the Community of Sant’Egidio on the occasion of this second anniversary.

The courtesy visit to Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, one of the most symbolic and significant persons in the Shiite world, was truly significant and stressed the importance of collaboration and friendship among Christians and Muslims, so that, by cultivating mutual respect and dialogue, they can contribute to the building up of a fraternal spirit for the sake of humanity.

The meeting was another milestone on the path of interreligious dialogue, as was the signing of the Document on “Human Fraternity for world peace and living together”(Abu Dhabi, 4 february 2019).

I’m very grateful to all of you for organizing this meeting. We need to dialogue in friendship and respect so that we understand each other better and so contribute to a more peaceful world, in which religious traditions collaborate instead of isolate.

In fact, in today’s precarious world, dialogue between religions is not a sign of weakness. Dialogue among believers, rather, is as an expression of God’s dialogue with humanity.

For us, Catholics and Shias before the future, the path to take is that of human fraternity. In my opinion, the relationship between interreligious dialogue, human fraternity, and the prospect of peace is practically unavoidable and has become so close that we cannot even imagine these realities as separate; believers who meet, speak to each other, know each other, and recognize each other share in a journey of common fraternity.

The magisterium of Pope Francis indicates a road map with three fundamental points of reference: the role of religion in our societies, the criterion of authentic religiosity, and walking together as brothers and sisters to build peace.

For Pope Francis, the answer to the questions and the suffering brought about by tensions and conflicts is closely tied with fraternity. He stated: “The response is not war, but the response is fraternity. This is the challenge not only for Iraq. It is the challenge for many regions in conflict and, ultimately, the challenge for the entire world is fraternity. Will we be capable of creating fraternity among us? Of building a culture of brothers and sisters?” (General Audience, 10th March 2021).

I’m convinced that the dialogue between our two religious communities will be a step forward in the direction of fraternity, a step forward that will bear many fruits.

Thank you for your attention.