Catholics, Muslims pray at Vatican for September 11 victims
VATICAN CITY: Catholics and Muslims prayed in Vatican City Wednesday for the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and of every act of terrorism.
The prayers were a part of the first meeting of a new committee created by the United Arab Emirates for implementing the goals outlined in Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb’s joint statement on human fraternity signed in Abu Dhabi Feb. 4.
According to the Holy See Press Office, the committee chose to meet Sept. 11 as “a sign of the will to build life and fraternity where others sowed death and destruction.”
The committee is made up of seven members: two from the Roman curia and five members from the UAE and Egypt. The group selected Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, to be the committee president.
Bishop Ayuso one of 13 men selected by Pope Francis to be elevated to the rank of cardinal Oct. 5.
Pope Francis greeted the committee members Sept. 11 in Casa Santa Marta and gave each of them a copy of the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”
The document on human fraternity, often referred to Abu Dhabi declaration, invites “all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.”
The document discusses the importance of religion in building a peaceful and free society and the challenges of an increasingly secular world. It condemns all practices and policies detrimental to human life and freedom.
Within a paragraph about human freedom, the document states that religious plurality is willed by God. “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings,” the document states.
The new committee is one of several initiatives taken by the UAE during what they have proclaimed the “Year of Tolerance.”
During their first meeting, the committee drafted a proposal to the United Nations to define a date sometime between Feb. 3-5 – the anniversary of Pope Francis’ 2019 visit to the UAE – to be proclaimed the “Day of Human Fraternity.” The group also decided to invitate representatives from other religions to join the committee.
At the conclusion of the meeting, each member prayed according to their own tradition for the victims of terrorism. The next meeting of the committee will be held Sept. 20 in New York.
“I think the Abu Dhabi declaration is a global appeal to the ‘civilization of love’ which contrasts with those who want a clash of civilizations,” Ayuso said in an interview with Vatican News Aug 26.
“Prayer, dialogue, respect and solidarity are the only winning weapons against terrorism, fundamentalism and all kinds of war and violence,” the cardinal elect said.