By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp - Abu Dhabi
One year ago, on February 4, two of the leaders of the world’s largest religions signed an historic document. The anniversary of the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar occasioned the launch of the Arab Media Convention for Human Fraternity on the part of the Muslim Council of Elders in Abu Dhabi.
Arab Media Convention for Human Fraternity
This Convention seeks to implement the Document on Human Fraternity. Many Arab media outlets responded to the invitation of the Muslim Council of Elders and attended Monday’s launch event.
In one of the presentations, Judge Mohamed Abdel Salam, former advisor to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, explained the media’s role with the Document. Speaking in Arabic, he said “the media is at the heart of this great humanitarian project. The media is undoubtedly an active partner…and bears a large part of the responsibility including the responsibility for its awareness, education and disseminating human values and principles”.
Vatican News' contribution
Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, was also a guest speaker at the Convention. Dr Ruffini provided a summary of how the Vatican covered the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity and subsequent events related to it. He reminded the audience of Pope Francis’ desire that the “era of communication might lead us to the culture of mutual respect”.
Members of the press react
Members of the Arab media were delighted to hear how the Vatican has contributed to spreading the Document on Human Fraternity.
Ibrahim Al-Abed, the Adviser to the Chairman of the UAE’s National Media Council spoke with us about how delighted he was to hear all that the Vatican has contributed to spreading the Document on Human Fraternity.
Many members of the Arab press on hand for this anniversary event covered the historic signing of the Document one year ago. CNN’s Arabic Editor-in-Chief, Caroline Faraj, told us the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity came as a complete surprise to her. “I was literally checking if it was true or not”, she said. That event “opened the eyes of the people to know more,” she continued. “It wasn’t just an event; it was an historic event”.
Representing the Catholic Church in the Middle East, Fr Rifat Bader, the General Director of The Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan, explained that the Document on Human Fraternity got off to a good start with the signing a year ago. “Now is the time…to think together”, he said. Taking the Pope’s lead, the people in the Middle East need to encourage initiatives that bring people together, “that promote not only values, but real co-existence between the different believers in one God”.