Pope addresses Zayed prize-winners and encourages interreligious dialogue
By Francesca Merlo, Vatican News
Pope Francis addresses the winners of the Zayed Prize for Human Fraternity, and tells them that fraternity can be reached, and peace obtained, but that it is a long journey.
February 4th marks the International Day of Human Fraternity, and the day of the ceremony for the awarding of the 2023 Zayed Prize for Human Fraternity, awarded this year to the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Kenyan peacemaker, Mama Shamsa.
To mark the occasion, Pope Francis sent a videomessage, in which he congratulates the winners for their work in promoting a culture of peace.
Addressing all those attending the award ceremony, Pope Francis notes that “we all bear in our heart the desire to live as brothers and sisters, in mutual assistance and harmony” adding that as, unfortunately, this often does not happen, we should “further stimulate the search for fraternity.”
Religions in peace
The Holy Father goes on to note that although religions do not have the political force to impose peace, “by transforming man from within, inviting him to detach himself from evil, they guide him towards an attitude of peace”.
Religions, he suggests, have a decisive responsibility in the coexistence of peoples. “Their dialogue weaves a peaceful web, repels temptations to lacerate the civil fabric, and frees one from the instrumentalization of religious differences for political ends.”
Bearing this in mind, the Pope continues that “religions, in order to be at the service of fraternity, need to engage in dialogue with each other, to get to know each other, to enrich each other, and above all to develop that which unites and to collaborate for the good of all.”
Each encounter is encouragment
Pope Francis then expresses the importance of encountering different people.
Each meeting between men and women of different walks of life, he says, “can be an opportunity to encourage each other to go forward as brothers and sisters”.
Bringing his message to an end, the Pope say that we aware that the journey to fraternity is a long and difficult one, but that all who undertake it, are commited to the cause of peace, “responding to the real problems and needs of the last, the poor, the defenceless: those who need our help”.
US President’s message
Another message at the ceremony came from US President Joe Biden, who, in supporting Pope Francis’ words on religion, notes that “faith and history teach us that, however dark the night, joy cometh in the morning.”
However, he adds, this takes work.
“Our pursuit of peace, justice, and human dignity is perennial; with every generation, we are called to combat the flames of hate that have been given too much oxygen for too long. We must sow the seeds of fraternity across all peoples, religions, and beliefs. We must rise together, enriched by each other’s differences and made whole by each other’s compassion.”
Highlighting the importance of the International Day of Human Fraternity, the US President reminds those present that this day “offers us an opportunity to see each other as equals, created in the image of God.”
Today, he concludes, “the United States joins in common cause with all people seeking peace and equality, remaining always committed to building a better Nation and a better world for future generations”.