Opening Remarks: G20 Interfaith Forum
His Eminence Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
13 October 2020
and Webinar Participants,
Thank you for your invitation to speak at the Opening Plenary Session at the G20 Interfaith Forum. I greet you all.
The world is passing through a very dark moment that demands adequate responses and solutions to the problems of our existential life. There is a real necessity for the human family to come together with a unified spirit and in a real friendship to propose answers to our common problems. We as religious leaders in particular need to be a “contagion of hope”. Let us then witness to our religious communities as well as to our societies in which we live: unity, solidarity and fraternity, for bettering our Common Home, as Pope Francis is continuously reminding us all. This is our public responsibility be it political, socio-economical or religious.
What Pope Francis in the new Encyclical “Fratelli tutti”, has proposed to us all is essential if we really want to find an adequate “therapy” towards ending this world crisis and to preventing another one in the future. With this in mind, I place before this important G20 Interfaith Forum for our consideration, Pope Francis’ call to reaffirm that we are members of the one human family. Today we have an opportunity to draw from the richness of what the Pope is offering not only to Catholics, but to the entire humanity.
I invite you to join Pope Francis in this adventure of promoting fraternity and social friendship. In this way, we can work together to overcome the challenges humanity is facing, hoping that we, as religious leaders, can promote, support and encourage communities and people around the world in the responsibility to seek only the common good and the dignity of every human person. Pope Francis says that: “The effort to seek God with a sincere heart, provided it is never sullied by ideological or self-serving aims, helps us recognize one another as travelling companions, truly brothers and sisters” (FT 274). In seeing respect and friendship as two fundamental attitudes needed for dialogue, Pope Francis has created a forum, where persons of different religious traditions, believers and non-believers, as well as persons of good will, may see all our efforts in the light of promoting the common good, offering not only concrete solutions as the G20 Interfaith Forum states, but a needed hope in the future.
Let’s not forget that believers of different religious traditions can offer their own valuable contributions to universal fraternity in the societies in which they live. “Fratelli Tutti” states: “It is wrong when the only voices to be heard in public debate are those of the powerful and ‘experts.’ Room needs to be made for reflections born of religious traditions that are the repository of centuries of experience and wisdom” (FT 275).
It is a temptation to limit fraternity only to those who share the same ideas or cultural context. According to the Encyclical, we are called to participate in that healthy subsidiarity which starts from the individual and expands to encompass the family, then social and state dimensions, all the way to the international community. As Pope Francis reminds us, this is why “it is necessary to develop not only a spirituality of fraternity but at the same time a more efficient world organization, to help resolve pressing problems if fraternity is to be an effective instrument in international relations” (FT, 165).
In a world in which relations among persons are characterized by indifference and greed for the growth of only select groups, there is a need for a new and universal solidarity and a new dialogue based on fraternity. As Pope Francis notes in “Fratelli Tutti”, “the multitude of the abandoned remain at the mercy of the possible good will of some” (FT, 165). Interreligious dialogue has an essential function in building a civil society that includes everyone and rejects the ‘throwaway culture’ which leaves persons isolated and without resources.
I am hopeful that through this G20 Interfaith Forum a better world, supported by the awareness engendered by “Fratelli Tutti”, will emerge out of our common efforts and concerned hopes. May we remain connected in this joint responsibility! Let us all be true messengers of unity, solidarity and fraternity!
Thank you for listening.