By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp, New York
Beginning on Friday, the members of the Higher Committee to implement the Document on Human Fraternity are meeting for the second time in New York City. Their first meeting took place in Rome on 11 September, the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City. 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.
Why New York
Several members of the Higher Committee took time out of their busy day on Friday to meet with journalists. Committee member Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam noted that choosing to hold the second meeting in New York, the Committee wanted to highlight the document’s global reach as world leaders converge on New York City for the opening of the 74th Session of the United Nations. The Committee, the Judge said, is willing to work with any nation who is open to the ideals expressed in the Document. He added that the first steps have been made with the UN Secretary General toward possible adoption of the Document by the United Nations. The Secretary General “is going to request member States to include the principles contained in this historical document in their local legislation”, the Judge said.
Language of Love
Committee member Rabbi Bruce Lustig said the Document on Human Fraternity is a “watershed…so inclusive, so powerful, and so important in its message of hope and… the responsibility of all people of the human family.” Although the document has already been translated into many languages, the Committee hopes that it will be translated into all of the world’s languages. Rabbi Lustig emphasized that the Document “is only written in one language, the language of love…the language of human fraternity”. Translations, he said, will help ensure that we all “speak in that one language”.
UAE brings world cultures together
Committee member Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak calls the Document the “most important declaration signed in the modern day”. The role the United Arab Emirates has played, both as the place where the Document was signed, and for its initiative in creating a Committee to implement the Document’s values and vision is an extension of the UAE’s contribution as a “beacon of light” in the region and a place that tries to “bring world cultures together”.
Abrahamic Family House
Friday’s meeting also included the presentation of the Abrahamic Family House to be constructed in Abu Dhabi. Announced in February by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, the initiative will embody the ideals of the Document on Human Fraternity, housing a church, a synagogue and a mosque -- a landmark -- but also a transformation in human history because, as Committee member Msgr. Gaid explained, it will turn what has been used in the past as a means of division among peoples into a point of contact.