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Keys: Why Document signed by pope and Muslim leader is so important

During the pope's historic trip as the first pontiff to the UAE for the Human Fraternity Meeting, a Document on Human Fraternity was drafted along with the Sunni Imam of Al-Azhar Ahamad Al-Tayeb. 

The five-page document is broken down in various parts, touching on some of the plagues of the current time and what unites humanity.


While Islam and Catholicism present a different belief in God, as Allah or as Jesus Christ, the document mentions the importance of this belief saying: “the first and most important aim of religion is to believe in God, to honor Him and to invite all men and women to believe that this universe depends on a God who governs it.”


Thus, it also declares “that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood.” 

The document states this violence exists from deviating from religious teachings and a manipulation to incite “hatred violence, extremism and blind fanaticism.”

“In the name of God the Creator, all forms of violence are condemned without hesitation, because they are a serious desecration of the Name of God.”

Founded on the basis of the common belief in God, the document asks all religions to stop using God's name to justify “murder, exile, terrorism and oppression.” 


The pope has also spoken about his beliefs of Islamic fundamentalism. He said it is not fair to identify Islam with violence. 

Aug. 1, 2016 - Papal Plane, Krakow
"I think that in almost all religions there is always a small fundamentalist group... Fundamentalist. We also have them. I don't think it's fair to identify Islam with violence. This is not fair and it's not true."

This document states the urgency to “stop supporting terrorist movements” and “attempts to justify these movements with the media.” It calls these actions “international crimes” that threaten security and world peace.


This Document “emphasizes the importance of the role of religions in the construction of world peace.” Peace and harmony are virtues Pope Francis has spoken about since the beginning of his pontificate.

Jan. 13, 2015 - Sri-Lanka
"It is my hope that inter-religious and ecumenical cooperation will demonstrate that men and women do not have to forsake their identity, whether ethnic or religious, in order to live in harmony with their brothers and sisters."

The declaration claims it is a sign of closeness between East and West, North and South, and between all who believe God has created them to understand one another and live as brothers and sisters.


A new idea was also proposed: citizenship for everyone based on equal human dignity, rights, duties and the need to be treated justly. 

Feb. 1, 2019
"The Middle East must become a land of peace. It cannot continue to be a land of confrontation. May war, the daughter of power and misery, yield its post to peace, the daughter of law and justice. May our Christian brothers be recognized as citizens, with full rights and equal rights."

Currently, citizenship is not granted to non-Muslims in the UAE, while they are free to practice their religion freely. Thus, this idea proposes “full citizenship and rejecting the discriminatory use of the term 'minorities' which engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority.”


The dignity and equality of women, children and the elderly is also stressed upon, especially in Muslim-based institutions where it is not practiced. 

July 9, 2018 - Bari, Italy
“Indifference kills, and we desire to lift up our voices in opposition to this murderous indifference. We want to give a voice to those who have none, to those who can only wipe away their tears.”

The document calls for women to be allowed education, employment and political rights. That they can be freed from historical and social conditioning and protected from sexual exploitation and being treated as objects of pleasure or financial gain.

Children must also be protected and allowed a family atmosphere, education, nutrition and support. Likewise, the weak, disabled and elderly must be protected. 


Pope Francis anticipated his two-day trip with this statement:

Jan. 31, 2019
“I am happy that the Lord has given me this opportunity to write, on your land, a new page in the history of relations between religions confirming that we are brothers and sisters, even though we are different.”

It seems his meant the 'new page' part quite literally, as from February fourth forward, a new fraternity may have been found between these two religions.