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“The declaration “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” – co-authored by His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El Tayeb – is a model for interfaith harmony and human solidarity. Let us all take inspiration and renew our commitment to stand together as one human family.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Pope: The heavens above invite us to walk together in fraternity

In his address read out at the Meeting on Human Fraternity taking place in Saint Peter’s Square on Saturday 10 June, Pope Francis says “the heavens above invite us to walk together, to rediscover each other as brothers and sisters and to believe in fraternity as the foundation of our pilgrimage.” He praises the Declaration on Human Fraternity prepared by 30 Nobel Prize laureates and signed at the meeting conclusion.

By Thaddeus Jones

Pope Francis offered his welcome and expressed his profound gratitude to all those near and far participating in the Meeting on Human Fraternity taking place in Saint Peter’s Square Saturday afternoon on 10 June. The Pope’s words came in a message read by Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica and Vicar General for Vatican City. Pope Francis is currently recovering from surgery in hospital and was unable to be present for the event as had originally been planned.

Fraternity and peace

The Pope added his voice to all those present in affirming “the desire for fraternity and peace in the world.” The worldwide dimension of the event came through with moving testimonies and interviews of people of all walks of life from around the globe sharing experiences of their trials and tribulations.

All underscored the gestures of goodwill and fraternity that they had received, despite the scars left from harrowing experiences of war, poverty, or suffering. #NotAlone, but united together in solidarity and friendship, they have been able to go forward in life and called on everyone to come together as brothers and sisters to witness to our common humanity and to respond to the call to fraternity.

“Indeed, the heavens above invite us to walk together, to rediscover each other as brothers and sisters and to believe in fraternity as the foundation of our pilgrimage.”

Participants shared their experiences and testimonies also live with link-ups to over eight countries around the world, including Italy (Trappani), Congo (Brazzaville), the Central African Republic (Bangui), Ethiopia, Argentina (Buenos Aires), Israel (Jerusalem), Japan (Nagasaki), and Peru (Lima).


Recalling his Encyclical Fratelli tutti, the Pope in his message says authentic fraternity calls us to see each other as a brother or a sister – not just a statistic, or a “other”, but a human person who has dignity and merits respect. In our suffering world marked by exploitation and indifference, violence and wars, “tweaks and adjustments are not enough,” the Pope writes.

“Only a great spiritual and social covenant born from the heart and centered on fraternity can restore the sacredness and inviolability of human dignity as the core of relationships.”

Action for a culture of peace

The Pope underscored that more than theories we need “concrete gestures” also made together in order to promote a “culture of peace.” And we should ask first “what can I give to my brothers and sisters” rather than just focus on what society can do for me. He said let’s come up with concrete gestures of building fraternity, even simply reconciling with family members, friends and neighbours, and praying for those who hurt us, helping those in need, speaking words of peace in all places of our lives, and consoling with our closeness those who feel alone.

Balm of tenderness

We are called to “apply the balm of tenderness” to help heal relationships between individuals or peoples that have become “gangrenous” he noted.

“Let us not tire of crying out “no to war”, in the name of God and in the name of every man and woman who aspires for peace.”

Recalling that fraternity is also fragile as it is precious, the Pope said that “the feeling of fraternity uniting us is stronger than hatred and violence” and that in our common suffering the sense of “feeling together” can lead to a spark that can “rekindle the light that stops the night of conflicts.”

With fraternity, change for the better

Believing that we are all brothers and sisters helps us look beyond our own ethnic and cultural roots to see our common human dignity that merits respect, he epxlained. And when individuals and communities choose fraternity, policies can change for the better, the Pope observed. Whether policies that safeguard the environment, ensure a just wage for work, or efforts to covercome past wrongs, all can lead to hope, prosperity, justice and healing.

Nobel Prize laureates

In conclusion, the Pope thanked the organizers of the meeting and paid tribute to the Declaration on Human Fraternity drafted earlier in the day by the 30 distinguished Nobel Laureates also present in Saint Peter’s Square, saying it offers a guide for living fraternity and witnessing to it every day in concrete ways.

“I wish you to keep in your hearts and memories the desire to embrace the women and men of the world in order to build together a culture of peace. Indeed, peace needs fraternity and fraternity needs encounter.”

Representatives of the group of Nobel Laureates, Dr. Muhammad Yunus and Dr. Nadia Murad, presented the Declaration on Human Fraternity during the event, with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, putting his signature to it.


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“The declaration “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” – co-authored by His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El Tayeb – is a model for interfaith harmony and human solidarity. Let us all take inspiration and renew our commitment to stand together as one human family.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Human fraternity for peace and cooperation

We need — perhaps more than ever before — to recognize the valuable contribution of people of all religions, or beliefs, to humanity and the contribution that dialogue among all religious groups can make towards an improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind.

We also need to underline the importance of raising awareness about different cultures and religions, or beliefs, and the promotion of tolerance, which involves societal acceptance and respect for religious and cultural diversity, including with regard to religious expression. Education, in particular at school, should contribute in a meaningful way to promoting tolerance and the elimination of discrimination based on religion or belief.

Furthermore, we must acknowledge that  tolerance,  pluralistic  tradition,  mutual  respect  and  the diversity of religions and beliefs promote human fraternity. Thus, it is imperative that we encourage activities  aimed  at  promoting  interreligious  and  intercultural dialogue in  order to  enhance peace  and social  stability,  respect for  diversity and mutual respect and to create, at the global level, and also at the regional, national and local levels, an environment conducive to peace and mutual understanding.

Within that frame, the General-Assembly took note of  all  international,  regional,  national  and  local  initiatives,  as appropriate,  as  well as  efforts  by religious leaders, to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue, and in this regard took note also of the meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib, on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, which resulted in the signing of the document entitled “Human fraternity for world peace and living together”.


Following the devastation of the Second World War, the United Nations was established to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. One of its purposes is to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems, including by promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.

In 1999, The General-Assembly adopted, by resolution 53/243, the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, which serves as the universal mandate for the international community, particularly the United Nations system, to promote a culture of peace and non-violence that benefits all of humanity, including future generations.

The declaration came about as a result of the long-held and cherished concept — contained within the Constitution of UNESCO — that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” The Declaration embraces the principle that peace is not merely the absence of conflict, but also requires a positive, dynamic participatory process, in which dialogue is encouraged and conflicts are resolved in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation.

On 20 October 2010, the General Assembly in resolution A/RES/65/5 pointed out that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace and established World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith. It further recognized the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.

At the core of all the faith systems and traditions is the recognition that we are all in this together and that we need to love and support one another to live in harmony and peace in an environmentally sustainable world. Our world continues to be beset by conflict and intolerance with rising number of refugees and the internally displaced in a hostile and unwelcoming world around them. We are also, unfortunately, witnessing messages of hate spreading discord among people. The need for spiritual guidance has never been greater. It is imperative that we double our efforts to spread the message of good neighborliness based on our common humanity, a message shared by all faith traditions.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 4 February as the International Day of Human Fraternity, with resolution 75/200.


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Prayer for Humanity | UNAOC

The International Day of Human Fraternity highlights the principles and values of the Document on Human Fraternity, while exploring good practices towards its implementation as a pathway to building a more peaceful world. The International Day of Human Fraternity commemorates the historic signing of the Document on Human Fraternity by His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on February 4, 2019.