Australian Catholic and Muslim leaders have adopted an interfaith commitment statement on the first anniversary of Pope Francis and Al-Azhar Grand Mufti Dr Ahmed al-Tayyeb signing the Document on Human Fraternity.
Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, the apostolic nuncio to Australia, and Bishop Michael McKenna, chair of the Bishops Commission for Christian Unity and Inter-religious Dialogue, were among the Catholic leaders at the event, along with Melkite Bishop Robert Rabbat, Chaldean Archbishop Amel Nona and Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Terry Brady.
Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, the Grand Mufti of Australia, and Sheik Shafiq Abdullah Khan, chair of the Australian Islamic Cultural Centre, signed the document on behalf of Australian Muslims.
A representative of the embassy of the United Arab Emirates, where the Document on Human Fraternity was signed in February 2019, was on hand. Members of other faith communities were also at the event.
The Australian document – signed by Bishop McKenna, ACU deputy vice-chancellor Professor Hayden Ramsay on behalf of the Catholic Church – upholds, recognises and commits to a number of values.
It upholds the concept of citizenship and the “capacity of every person to pursue the good and the true, through the exercise of the freedom of belief, thought expression and action”.
It recognises all human beings “as children of God by divine grace”, as brothers and sisters.
It commits to fraternity between believers, non-believers and people of good will and to the rejection of violence, hate, extremism and “the shedding of blood throughout the world”.
Archbishop Yllana said the document signed in 2019 was “rich in content as well as in significance” and has a relevance for all people of goodwill.
Bishop McKenna said people of faith are being marginalised in a number of contexts and a shared effort to safeguard their rights to belief and expression is critical.
Dr Mohammed, in words translated at the event, spoke of how the Australian document has the potential to combat the extremism that “destroys our people and our lands”.
“We are here to emphasise that Muslims and Catholics in Australia, among other faiths, have a common cause in agreeing to the principles established in the covenant for peaceful coexistence,” he said.
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