ROME — The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will participate in a meeting hosted by the United Nations to mark the first International Day of Human Fraternity.
According to a statement published Feb. 1 by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the pope will take part in the Feb. 4 virtual event, which will be hosted in Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince.
Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University, and António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, are also expected to attend, the pontifical council said.
“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,” said Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso, 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 said.
The date chosen for the event marks the day in 2019 that Pope Francis and Sheikh el-Tayeb signed a document on promoting dialogue and “human fraternity” during his apostolic visit to the United Arab Emirates.
The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity was established after the pope’s visit in order to implement concrete proposals toward fraternity, solidarity and mutual understanding proposed in the document.
In an interview with Vatican News published Feb. 1, Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, secretary-general of the committee, said the celebration of the International Day of Human Fraternity “means that humanity has come to realize the importance of human fraternity in shaping its relations” and those of “its future generations.”
The international day, he added, also comes at a time when humanity continues to face difficult challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as escalating conflicts and violence “which are dangers that can only be confronted with solidarity and brotherhood among all members of the human family.”
“The importance of this resolution is that it makes the realization of human fraternity a global solidarity responsibility, as the whole world shares in the realization of these sublime principles, and every year it renews ideas and visions for its realization, so that it becomes inspiring for tolerance and coexistence,” he said.