Pope Francis will celebrate the International Day of Human Fraternity on Thursday, 4 February, in a virtual event hosted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, with the participation of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb; Secretary General António Guterres of the United Nations; and other personalities.
On the same occasion, the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity, which is inspired by the Human Fraternity Document, will be awarded. The meeting and the award ceremony will be streamed in several languages starting at 14:30 (Rome time) - 13.30 (GMT time) - by Vatican News, the multimedia information portal of the Holy See, and broadcast by Vatican Media.
"This celebration responds to a clear call that Pope Francis has been making to all humanity to build a present of peace in the encounter with the other," stressed Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot MCCJ, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. "In October 2020, that invitation became even more vivid with the Encyclical Fratelli tutti. These meetings are a way to achieve true social friendship, as the Holy Father asks of us," he added.
The date is no coincidence. On 4 February 2019, during an Apostolic Journey the Pope made to the United Arab Emirates, together with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (Cairo), Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, they signed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together. The Pope and the Grand Imam spent almost half a year drafting this Document before announcing it together during such a historic visit.
A few months later, the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity was established to translate the aspirations of the Human Fraternity Document into sustained engagements and concrete actions to foster fraternity, solidarity, respect and mutual understanding. The Higher Committee is planning an Abrahamic Family House, with a synagogue, a church and a mosque, on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi. It established an independent jury to receive nominations for the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity and choose winners whose work demonstrates a lifelong commitment to human fraternity. The 2021 prize will be awarded on 4 February.
On 21 December 2020, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 4 February as International Day of Human Fraternity. "In this decisive phase of human history, we are at a crossroads: on the one hand, universal fraternity in which humanity rejoices, and on the other, an acute misery that will increase the suffering and deprivation of people," Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, secretary general of the High Committee of Human Fraternity, underlined during his presentation of the encyclical Fratelli tutti on 4 October 2020.
Pope Francis has encouraged the Holy See to join in the celebration of International Human Fraternity Day under the leadership of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. In the January edition of the Pope's Video, “At the service of human fraternity,” the Holy Father highlights the importance of focusing on what is essential to the faith of all faiths: worship of God and love of neighbour. "Fraternity leads us to open ourselves to the Father of all and to see in the other a brother, a sister, to share life, or to support one another, to love, to know," Pope Francis emphasises in the video.
About the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was instituted in 1964 by Pope Paul VI with the aim of working on relations and dialogue between the Catholic Church and the faithful of other religions. It is currently chaired by Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot.
Among its main activities, it collaborates with bishops and Episcopal Conferences on matters related to interreligious dialogue; it holds meetings, visits and conferences with leaders of other religions; and it publishes various materials to promote dialogue between different faiths.
About the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity
The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity is made up of different international religious leaders, scholars and cultural leaders who were inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity and are dedicated to sharing its message of mutual understanding and peace.
Their main work is to act concretely according to the aspirations of the Document on Human Fraternity and to spread the values of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence. The Secretary General of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity is Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam.