The International Day of Human Fraternity was set up by the UN General Assembly to commemorate the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, in Abu Dhabi on 4 February 2019.
Pope Francis sent a video message on Friday as the world marked the second Day dedicated to this historic event. Fraternity, said the Pope, can act as a “bulwark against hatred, violence, and injustice”.
He thanked the many people and organizations—especially Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity—for the many initiatives which seek to implement the Document’s values.
Fraternity is one of the fundamental and universal values that ought to undergird relationships between peoples, so that the suffering or disadvantaged do not feel excluded and forgotten, but accepted and supported as part of the one human family. We are brothers and sisters!Pope Francis
Pope Francis said all people, regardless of religion or creed, are called to promote a “culture of peace” that welcomes all, while encouraging development and solidarity.
Throughout his message, the Pope repeated the affirmation that “we all live under the same heaven” and that we are all God’s children, no matter the colour of our skin or social class.
He said every person has a role to play in making the world a better place, by helping others raise “their eyes and prayers to heaven.”
Let us raise our eyes to heaven, because whoever worships God with a sincere heart also loves his or her neighbour. Fraternity makes us open to the Father of all and enables us to see others as our brothers or sisters, to share life, to support one another and to love and come to know others.Pope Francis
As the world faces the Covid-19 pandemic, he said, we must remember that we are not saved alone. Rather, we must extend our hands “to celebrate our unity in diversity—unity, not uniformity,” said the Pope.
“The time of fraternity has arrived,” he added, so we should strive to “live in solidarity with one another.”
He also lamented the many little wars—a “third world war being fought piecemeal”—that destroy lives, force children to endure hunger, and suppress educational opportunities.
Now is not a time for indifference: either we are brothers and sisters, or everything falls apart.Pope Francis
We must not be indifferent to each other’s sufferings, said the Pope. The common heritage of Christians, Muslims, and Jews in God’s promise to Abraham joins us and helps us live “a fraternity as vast and bright as the stars of heaven.”
Pope Francis again greeted his “dear brother”, the Grand Imam, and acknowledged that the path of fraternity is “long and challenging” yet it is “the anchor of salvation for humanity.”
“Let us counter the many threatening signs, times of darkness and mindsets of conflict with the sign of fraternity that, in accepting others and respecting their identity, invites them to a shared journey,” he said.
Every person should be respected in their own identity and personality, added the Pope.
And he concluded by thanking everyone who believes that the world can live in harmony, since we are all “creatures of God: brothers and sisters.”
“I encourage everyone to be committed to the cause of peace and to respond concretely to the problems and needs of the least, the poor and the defenseless,” said Pope Francis. “Our resolve is to walk side by side, ‘brothers and sisters all’, in order to be effective artisans of peace and justice, in the harmony of differences and with respect for the identity of each.”