HELLO, BROTHER

Sharjah 2020 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

Speaking during a visit to the Emirates, Pope Francis called on followers of all religions to reject violence in all its forms and help build true, human solidarity across the world.

Pope Francis
BIOGRAPHY
Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires on December 17, 1936. He graduated university as a chemical technician and then chose the path of the priesthood, entering the Diocesan Seminary of Villa Devoto. In 1958, he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus. He completed his humanities studies in Chile and returned to Argentina in 1963 to graduate with a degree in philosophy from the Colegio de San José in San Miguel. In 2001, Pope John Paul II designated him as a cardinal. He was elected Supreme Pontiff in 2013.

As-salamu alaykum! Peace be with you. With a heart grateful to the Lord, in this eighth centenary of the meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al Kamil, I have welcomed the opportunity to come here as a believer thirsting for peace, as a brother seeking peace with the brethren. We are here to desire peace, to promote peace, to be instruments of peace.

We cannot honor the creator without cherishing the sacredness of every person and of every human life. Each person is equally precious in the eyes of God, who does not look upon the human family with a preferential gaze that excludes, but with a benevolent gaze that includes. Thus, to recognize the same rights for every human being is to glorify the name of God on earth. In the name of God, the creator, therefore, every form of violence must be condemned without hesitation, because we gravely profane God's name when we use it to justify hatred and violence against a brother or sister. No violence can be justified in the name of religion.

Various questions, however, confront us. How do we look after each other in the one human family? How do we nourish a fraternity that is not theoretical but translates into authentic fraternity? How can the inclusion of the other prevail over exclusion in the name of belonging to one's own group? How, in short, can religions be channels of fraternity rather than barriers of separation?

Investing in culture encourages a decrease of hatred and a growth of civility and prosperity. Education and violence are inversely proportional. Catholic schools—well appreciated in this country and in the region—promote such education on behalf of peace and reciprocal knowledge in order to prevent violence.

A fraternal living together, founded on education and justice; a human development built upon a welcoming inclusion and on the rights of all: these are the seeds of peace which the world's religions are called to help flourish. For them, perhaps as never before, in this delicate historical situation, it is a task that can no longer be postponed: to contribute actively to demilitarizing the human heart. The arms race, the extension of its zones of influence, and the aggressive policies to the detriment of others will never bring stability. War cannot create anything but misery, weapons bring nothing but death!

Human fraternity requires of us, as representatives of the world's religions, the duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word “war." Let us return it to its miserable crudeness. Its fateful consequences are before our eyes. I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Libya. Together, as brothers and sisters in the one human family willed by God, let us commit ourselves against the logic of armed power, against the monetization of relations, the arming of borders, the raising of walls, the gagging of the poor; let us oppose all this with the sweet power of prayer and daily commitment to dialogue. Our being together today is a message of trust, an encouragement to all people of good will, so that they may not surrender to the floods of violence and the desertification of altruism. God is with those who seek peace. From heaven he blesses every step that, on this path, is accomplished on earth. From your country, my thoughts turn to all the countries of this peninsula. To them I address my most cordial greetings, with friendship and esteem.