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Pope: Fraternal dialogue must not be ‘confined to words’

Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyeb (left) during his visit to the UAE in February 2019 (ANSA)

Pope Francis renewed his call for peace and fraternity by underscoring the importance of going beyond mere words.

“Let us ensure that our dream of fraternity in peace is not confined to words! The word ‘dialogue’ is, in fact, extremely rich and cannot be limited to discussions around a table,” he said.

This was the central point of the Holy Father's message to the participants of the International Congress of PLURIEL, the University Platform for Research on Islam in Abu Dhabi.

On February 4, the International Day of Human Fraternity, the pope invited everyone to step outside of their disciplines, maintain curiosity, and foster flexibility.

“Listen to your brother, whom you have not chosen but whom God has put beside you to teach you to love,” said Pope Francis.

The pope also pointed out that getting to know the value of other people, particularly those with a different culture or belief, is key to building mutual trust in the world and killing the harmful concept of “anti-brother.”

“Peace without an education based on respect for and knowledge of others has neither value nor future,” he said.

“Human intelligence, for its part, is fundamentally relational; it can only flourish if it remains curious and open to all fields of reality and if it knows how to freely communicate the fruit of its discoveries,” he also said.

Furthermore, Pope Francis reiterated the value of listening in connecting cultures and unveiling the “inexhaustible richness of human life.”

“How many evils would be avoided if there were more listening, silence, and real words all at once, in families, political or religious communities, even within universities and between peoples and cultures! Creating spaces where different opinions can be heard is not a waste of time but a gain for humanity,” said the Holy Father.

He emphasized that debates, although inevitable, can become fruitful and meaningful by being silent, slowing down, and exercising openness to otherness.

2024 marks the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyeb.

It aims to educate new generations about bringing goodness and peace to others, as well as becoming steadfast defenders of the oppressed and marginalized.


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