What have been concrete steps forward since the Pope’s historic trip to the Arabian Peninsula, signing the Human Fraternity Document with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, and the instituting of the Higher Committee for achieving the goals contained in the document?
In an interview with ZENIT abroad, Cardinal-elect Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, the President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Chairman of the Higher Committee, reveals that among its fruits, will be a designated plot of land in Abu Dhabi being reserved for places of worship of world’s three monotheistic religions, where there is an atmosphere of respect, with each one fully living out their own religion.
The soon to be Cardinal was speaking Tuesday in Madrid at the 33rd interreligious meeting organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio.
With this year’s theme being ‘Peace without borders,’ the encounter gathered more than 300 leaders and representatives of all world religions, coming from 60 countries. Every year, the Community organizes the event in different cities of Europe, to commemorate the historic day of prayer for peace convened in 1986 in Assisi by Pope John Paul II with the leaders of all world religions. Cardinal Guixot was present for the three-day encounter and participated in a panel on the Document of Human Fraternity.
ZENIT Senior Vatican Correspondent, Deborah Castellano Lubov, had traveled to Madrid to follow this week’s events.
Lubov and ZENIT Spanish Correspondent, Rosa Die Alcolea, spoke to Cardinal Guixot following the panel.
In the interview, he discusses the document, some of its fruits, and how other religions can become greater involved.
“The document is very important for its contents must be proposed in different ways at an institutional level, a community level, an academic level and various others.” “However,” the Vatican dicastery president said, “that which demands more is that this document can arrive at peace, and that there is a concrete compromise of action, that is to bring together and inspire the community.”
This, he noted, could involve ‘a parish group, a prayer group, an institute, high school or university that can join together and reflect on this document, to find the paths and orientations that can help us to implement these elements that are offered in the declaration of Abu Dhabi, that we all know is extraordinary. It is an extraordinary document.
The Vatican official then responded to how important is it to speak about this document in an inter-religious context, like here in Madrid where all the faiths are represented.
“Like I said repeatedly,” Cardinal-elect Guixot said, “it is very important the document surpasses the borders.”
The President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, reminded the theme of our meeting in Madrid ‘Peace without borders,’ and added: “Borders should not exist.”
“Instead,” he underscored, “we must find ways so that that which happened historically in Abu Dhabi, with two religious figures, His Holiness Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Tayyeb, can be an element that helps every community to take a specific compromise to make our society better, to give and bring this balm that is not other than bringing a little bit of humanity, fraternity, a bit of peace, coexistence.”
“This begins,” he observed, “already in every religious context because these values already exist and then, we must work more serenely but more intensely to live that in our own consciences, our family units, in our society and workplaces, and also there, where we will go, we must bring a little bit of this spirit, which the world so greatly needs.”
“Damose da fa! (Let’s get working’)” he said, in Romano. This expression comes from when someone teased Pope John Paul II asking whether he knew ‘Romano’ (Roman dialect), and he jokingly responded with that expression, to show he did.
Responding to the first steps that the Higher Committee will take to implement the objectives of the Abu Dhabi Document, he noted: “A Committee has been created which is very important but, at the same time, this Committee won’t do anything other than encourage the communities, the communities of pastorals, the academic institutions so that they commit themselves to read, comment and promote inter-religious dialogue through the contents of that Declaration.”
“Evidently,” he continued, “there will be institutional initiatives, such as those I’m about to carry out. On the 20th I’m going to present in New York a project that was already done in the time of the Pope’s visit to Abu Dhabi, which is the creation of this.”
In a statement from the Holy See Press Office, Sept. 18, it was announced that the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity will include Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, Senior Rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation, as committee member, bringing the total membership to eight members concerned with the achievement of the objectives set forth in the Human Fraternity Document.
As Chairman of the Higher Committee, Cardinal-elect Guixot welcomed Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig as a new member, stating: “The Committee welcomes all competencies and religious and cultural personalities and all who contribute to the achievement of the honorable goals for which the Document of Human Fraternity was established,” adding that in the coming period, the Committee seeks to meet with a number of important leaders and icons to coordinate on the initiatives and projects being implemented by the Committee.”