Photo: Pope Francis shakes hands with Grand Sheik Ahmed al Tayeb as he arrives for a meeting with members of Muslim Council of Elders at Grand Mosque of Sheik Zayed in Abu Dhabi, February 4 2019 (EPA/Vatican Media)
Pope Francis has condemned fundamentalist intolerance, urging in its place respect, love and care always for human dignity.
– Bigotry “damages relationships between individuals, groups and peoples”: pontiff
In her message for the Day Monday, UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay wrote:
“At a time when the pandemic has intensified the divisions that fracture and disfigure our societies, sometimes leading to a reawakening of racism, fanaticism and extremism, it is more than ever necessary to reaffirm the founding values of our humanity.
“Dignity, justice, curiosity and diversity are intrinsic values of tolerance”.
Pope Francis echoed that message in his tweet, where he wrote that “every form of fundamentalist intolerance damages relationships between individuals, groups and peoples”.
“Let us be committed to living and teaching the value of respect, a love capable of welcoming differences, and the priority of the dignity of every human being”, the pontiff urged instead.
Also for Tolerance Day November 16, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon in Myanmar and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), recalled that this year’s observance “comes amidst tears”: the “tears of nearly 1.2 million people who died to Covid”.
In a talk Monday, Bo lamented that too many mortal victims of Covid left this life “in depressing loneliness” and were buried “unwept and unsung”.
Insisting that the message of the pandemic is to “avoid intolerance” since “we are all one in this”, Bo noted that “the virus reminds us: united we stand, divided we fall”.
“Compassion for the suffering is the only vaccine [in] the global war against the merciless virus. We shall win only when we treat our brothers and sisters’ tears as our own. Adore them. Tears have no color, no religion, no race. We are all one in this challenge to our… existence”, the cardinal pleaded.
Bo urged Catholics to wear facemasks, “not only to protect us, but to think of the other”.
“The time of treating others as my enemies is gone; if I save my brother, whoever it is, whatever religion he belongs to; I save myself. There is no salvation without my brothers and sisters”, the cardinal insisted.
The prelate from Myanmar noted the great interreligious potential there is in the virtue of tolerance, since not only Jesus, for example, preached “pray for your enemies, for those who persecute you”, but also Lord Buddha “urged all to feel one not only with living beings, but even with trees and all living things”.
Not only do the various faiths recommend tolerance, however, according to Bo – the human experience of world wars, climate change, the pandemic and the like also urge humanity to practice “unity” and “love”.
“Love is the supreme virtue. Love is the identity card of every human being. Christianity teaches: Love one another, that is the greatest law of life”, the cardinal recalled.
He closed with an appeal to “look at the tragedy and tears of the pandemic. It spared none. It discriminated [against] none… The tears are the same, urging us to forget our differences. Never tolerate intolerance”.