Marking the first anniversary of the Document on Human Fraternity

One year ago today, Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, signed a joint statement which wrote "a new page in the dialogue between religions and people of good will" (Pope Francis).

The document was born out of open and fraternal discussion between the two religious leaders and focuses on how different faiths can live peaceably in the same world. When it was signed last year, it was met with wide praise and some criticism.

While many applauded the attempt to bridge the sectarian divide, some critics raised questions about the document's theological validity. 

In a tweet marking the anniversary, Pope Francis said “as brothers and sisters, we want to say ‘no’ to violence, and together promote peace, life, and religious freedom.”

Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb is considered by some Muslims to be the highest authority in Sunni Islamic thought. In January he met with a delegation of French Bishops during which he is reported as saying:

“The Human Fraternity Document that I signed with my brother Francis, and which enthroned a whole year of hard work and sincere efforts by Al-Azhar and the Vatican, is considered a safe way out of human problems in the East and West.”

For those wanting to know more, Fr James Hanvey SJ has written a blog which you can read here.

[Photo by Ashwin Vaswani on Unsplash]