VATICAN (CNS); On September 11, a day remembered for the terrorist attacks against the United States in 2001, Pope Francis met with members of a committee of Muslim leaders and Vatican officials promoting a new era of dialogue and world peace.
The committee, which met for the first time, is working to fulfill the goals of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together. It rejects violence and terrorism and promotes identity, dialogue and harmony, and was signed in the United Arab Emirates on February 4 by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, Egypt, leading authority for many Sunni Muslims (Sunday Examiner, February 17).
“The date was chosen as a sign of the will to build life and fraternity where others sowed death and destruction,” a communiqué by the Vatican press office issued on September 11 said.
The seven-person committee is made up of representatives for the Vatican, al-Azhar University and the United Arab Emirates.
The pope greeted each member and gave them a special copy of the document, issued by the Vatican Library.
Calling them “artisans of fraternity,” Pope Francis thanked them and encouraged them to be the source of a new form of politics of “not only of outstretched hands, but of open hearts,” the communiqué said.
During the committee’s meeting, which the pope did not attend, the members agreed to invite representatives of other religions to join and they made a proposal to ask the United Nations to proclaim a World Day of Human Fraternity, to be celebrated between February 3 and 5.
When the meeting ended, “each member prayed according to his own faith for the victims of September 11 and of every act of terrorism,” the Vatican statement said.
Members of the committee include: cardinal-designate Archbishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, former adviser to Egyptian Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University; Mohamed Husin Abdelaziz Hassan, president of al-Azhar University; and Sultan Faisal Al Remeithi, UAE secretary general of the Muslim Council of Elders.