By Cindy Wooden, Catholic Press Service
ROME (CNS) – The surprising thing about Pope Francis’ encyclical on human brotherhood was not its assertion that all men are brothers and sisters, but the reaction of people who found it hard to believe that a Pope says this, said Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue.
“If the world finds out instantly that we are brothers and sisters, we are in trouble! Something is wrong. In the situation of confusion, fear and emptiness in which we are plunged, we must return to the roots of our own faith, ”the cardinal said in his opening address to a conference in Rome.
Sponsored by the Jesuit review La Civiltà Cattolica and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University, the November 8-9 conference marked the first anniversary of the Pope’s encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on fraternity and social friendship ”and was designed to explore“ the implications of a culture of encounter for the future of intercultural and interreligious dialogue ”.
In his encyclical, “Pope Francis simply reiterated and once again recalled a truth as old as the world which is at the root of our faith: we are all brothers and sisters”, writes the cardinal in his text for the event .
This truth, he said, obviously applies to “our brothers and sisters of other religious traditions, not only as objects of our love, but as companions with whom we take the first steps. walls built by fear and ignorance “.
“Together, we can try to build bridges of friendship that are fundamental for the good of all humanity,” said the cardinal. “Brotherhood, as it comes from above, of the one God, is universal and generates brothers rather than partners. Consequently, fraternity tends to erase the natural and historical borders separating individuals and peoples.
The obligation of love and kinship that all believers in God should feel must translate into solidarity, he said. “Brotherhood is the most effective stand against our ‘throwaway culture’, which crushes and rejects the poor, causing them to die of hunger and injustice.
Interfaith dialogue has an obvious role to play, said Cardinal Ayuso. “In today’s world, where God is tragically forgotten or his name is mistreated, people of different religions are called to stand together to defend and promote peace and justice, human dignity and the protection of human life. ‘environment. We must offer our collaboration to the societies in which we live and share with all our common values and our deepest beliefs concerning the sacred and inviolable character of life and of the human person.
Sultan Al Remeithi, secretary general of the Abu Dhabi-based Muslim Council of Elders, told the conference that the Muslim values of “knowledge” and “just and pious cooperation” correspond to the Pope’s vision and can promote “understanding. that bypass ignorance (and) division and turn physical gatherings like this into opportunities to open doors of cultural knowledge between us.
“There is no doubt that successive global events and crises have underscored our desperate need for human brotherhood,” he said.
John Borelli, Georgetown President’s Special Assistant for Catholic Identity and Dialogue, noted at the conference that “Fratelli Tutti” is “the first major papal document, the first encyclical or apostolic letter after the resulting Vatican II Ecumenical Council. mainly of interreligious experiences “- the meeting of the Pope in Abu Dhabi in 2019 with the Egyptian Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and their signing of a document on human fraternity and interreligious dialogue.
“’Fratelli Tutti’, published almost 55 years after the closing of Vatican II, gives us in encyclical form a confirmation of the teachings of Vatican II on interreligious dialogue, a re-confirmation of the de facto religious pluralism that is recognized in the document ‘Nostra Aetate’ of the council, and a pivot, a reorientation and a new direction for the effectiveness and strength of the interfaith experience for our shared planet and our human journey, ”said Borelli.