A year ago on February 4, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad el-Tayeb, signed the interfaith “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”, in Abu Dhabi.

Religious leaders and many others gathered in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday to mark the first anniversary of this interfaith Document on Human Fraternity.

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who attended this anniversary in Abu Dhabi, told Vatican News that last year’s signing of the interfaith document shows that they are really committed to “promoting this spirit of fraternity in the world”. 

“This is what the world needs,” the cardinal told Sister Bernadette Reis fsp, in an interview. 

Hence, it is the specific call for every culture and of every religious community to collaborate together in respect, despite their differences, to promote the spirit of the declaration that is based on three major pillars, which the cardinal described as the “ABC of our life as human beings”: that of “friendship, peace and living together”.

However, Cardinal Ayuso clarified that in promoting fraternity and coming together, we are not asked to change our religion or our religious traditions.

“We cannot and we can never renounce our own identity”, he stressed.

On the contrary, “among the conditions needed for promoting inter-religious dialogue, is that of remaining always fully radicated in our own identity, in our own religious traditions.”

The cardinal recalled the Pope’s address to the international conference in Cairo in April 2017, urging all to also “have the courage to encounter the other”.

For this, “we must show this spirit of sincerity of our intention”.

Despite our differences, the cardinal said that as believers, who are also citizens, we always have the “opportunity and this specific call by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam to walk together hand-in-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder, in order to better our world and our society”.

Hence, each one remains who he or she is, without renouncing our religion at all because the goal is “not to create this melting pot of everybody but rather a rich, mixed salad”.

Therefore, without renouncing the different spiritual resources within our religious traditions, Cardinal Ayuso said, each one of us has a heavenly message to live in proximity with all our brothers and sisters, whoever they are and whatever their religious traditions. The richness of this, he said, lies in unifying our different voices into a “beautiful sound of music”, a “symphony of the world”.

(Source: CD/Robin Gomes, Vatican News)

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.