Human Fraternity: a Jewish Reflection for Common Coexistence
Miguel Ángel Cardinal Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ
World Jewish Congress
Gregorian University, Rome
8 November 2019
Dr. Ronald S. Lauder,
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I am grateful to Dr. Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, for organising this meeting on Human Fraternity: a Jewish reflection for common coexistence to disseminate the message of the historic Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed by His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence the Grand-Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, in Abu Dhabi last February 4, 2019. I also thank all of you for your kind presence on this occasion.
Since the beginning of His Pontificate, Pope Francis has always invited us to promote a ‘culture of dialogue’ through mutual respect and friendship. In this regard, the Document on ‘Human Fraternity’ is truly a milestone on the path of interreligious dialogue. It marks how far we have come together, but it is also a point of departure. It is a new dynamic which takes us from our encounter as only face-to-face, to our working together standing shoulder-to-shoulder in order to promote peace by the way we are living together. Thus, the Document on Human Fraternity is not so much a map for the future, but a day-to-day commitment of working together for the common good and contributing, as believers, along with all people of good will, to healing our wounded world.
By fraternity is meant the fundamental human relationships that draw from the depth of the meaning of family – that of sister or brother – not just fellowship or friendship, but most of all the inextricable bond that is the human family. But Fraternity cannot mean being exclusive to my group, community, culture, religion but inclusive of all humanity.
Through our efforts in Interreligious Dialogue, as members of one human family, we are called to promote the dignity of each person, recognizing her or him as sister or brother, at all times and in any part of the world. We do not start at zero in dialogue: there is always our shared humanity, with all its existential and practical aspects, which provides the needed meeting ground.
Pope Francis in his speech at the Global Conference of Human Fraternity said: “There is no alternative: either we will build the future together or there will be no future. Religions in particular cannot renounce the urgent task of building bridges between peoples and cultures. The time has come when religions should more actively exert themselves, with courage and audacity, and without pretense, to help the human family deepen the capacity for reconciliation, the vision of hope and the concrete paths of peace.” (Address of Pope Francis at the Global Conference of Human Fraternity, Founder’s Memorial Abu Dhabi, 4.2.2019).
Beside the well-known obstacles, differences, prejudices and conflicts in today’s world, the Abu Dhabi Declaration summons us to move beyond any of these problems by remaining always rooted in our own identity, avoiding any kind of syncretism, being supported by the sincerity of our intentions.
With this as the path, we can commit ourselves to serving humanity through our mutual collaboration in promoting that peace for which the world yearns. By promoting this historic Document on Human Fraternity we call others to reflect and study this new opportunity to work for peace by the way we live together.
As you know, on 19th August, a Higher Committee was formed in the United Arab Emirates in order to achieve the objectives of the Document of Human Fraternity, and work on the development of an operational framework for the goals and objectives set forth in it. The Committee met for the first time on September 11th in Rome. In his remarks to the group, Pope Francis noted the significance of the manifestation of the desire to promote life and fraternity being made on the same date as others had chosen to sow death and destruction. Shortly after this first meeting, Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, Senior Rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation, joined the Higher committee as a representative of the Jewish faith.
The Higher Committee chose to meet for the second time on September 20th in New York, in an effort to globally promote their message as world leaders converged on New York City for the opening of the 74th General Assembly of the United Nations.
As Pope Francis and the Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayyeb have shown us in their ‘universal call’, through their Declaration that excludes no person, no period nor place for the good of humanity, the culture of encounter and mutual knowledge is not a utopian ideal. It is a necessary condition for living in peace and leaving a better world to future generations.
Although sadly evil, hatred, and division often make the news, there is a hidden well of goodness that is increasing, leading us to hope in dialogue, reciprocal knowledge one of the other and the possibility of building – together with the followers of other religions and all men and women of goodwill – a world of fraternity and peace.
I am thankful today to Dr. Lauder, who kindly invited me to this important Conference on human fraternity. His reflections as President of the World Jewish Congress on the Document on Human Fraternity are very relevant, offering concrete encouragement for its implementation.
As we are all aware, life is sacred because it is a gift from God; for those of us in the three great monotheistic religions this is fundamental. In conclusion, I would like to call to mind the prayer intention of Pope Francis for the month of November 2019. He invites us to pray that “a spirit of dialogue, encounter, and reconciliation emerge in the Middle East where (…) concord and dialogue among the three monotheistic religions is based on spiritual and historic bonds”.
It is my heartfelt wish and profound desire that this event we are celebrating today bring fruits for the development of a new phase of interreligious dialogue setting off in a bold and collaborative journey to explore how people of good will across all religions can work together for mutual understanding and global peace.
Thank you for your kind attention.