Abu Dhabi: Pope Francis has stressed that the true measure of a nation’s greatness lies not solely in its wealth but also in its dedication to fostering values such as peace and fraternity.
“Investing in culture promotes the decline of hatred and contributes to the growth of civilisation and prosperity,” Pope Francis said during a recent interview with Al Ittihad newspaper.
The Pope lauded the UAE for its role in promoting peace, tolerance, and coexistence both regionally and globally.
Our mission is to channel religious sensibilities towards cooperation, fraternity, and taking concrete actions for the greater good. We need individuals who build peace, not weapons; individuals who douse flames, not ignite them; individuals who preach reconciliation, not division.
Particularly, Pope Francis commended President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his unwavering commitment to supporting international peace efforts and fighting diseases worldwide.
He further thanked the UAE for transforming the principles of the “Document on Human Fraternity” into tangible actions aimed at bettering the lives of the underprivileged and the sick.
Remembering his historical visit to Abu Dhabi in 2019, Pope Francis spoke warmly of the reception he received and praised the UAE’s investment in education and human resources. He regards the commitment of the UAE and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to building an inclusive identity and supporting global peace initiatives as commendable.
Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of the “Document on Human Fraternity” as a roadmap for peaceful coexistence among all human beings.
He expressed his joy at the global community’s reception and understanding of the document as a guide for future generations. He sees the document as “a light that guides everyone, a road map for anyone who courageously chooses to be a peacemaker in our world torn apart by war, violence, hatred, and terrorism.”
During the interview, Pope Francis referred to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE, as an exemplary leader who laid the foundation of tolerance, coexistence, and education. He emphasized that his sons are continuing his legacy.
In his first statement regarding the recent incident in Sweden where the Holy Quran was burned, Pope Francis strongly condemned the act, stating, “Such actions are to be rejected and condemned.” He emphasised that freedom of expression should never serve as justification for offending religious sentiments and expressed his deep disapproval of the incident.
“Our mission,” he continued, “is to channel religious sensibilities towards cooperation, fraternity, and taking concrete actions for the greater good. We need individuals who build peace, not weapons; individuals who douse flames, not ignite them; individuals who preach reconciliation, not division. We face a choice between building a civilization of brotherhood or succumbing to reactionary hostility. We must build the future together, or there will be no future.”
The Pope underscored that the foundation for interreligious cooperation lies in reciprocity, respect for others, and truth. He urged communities worldwide to embrace these principles in the pursuit of a more peaceful and harmonious world.
Regarding the “Abrahamic House” project, Pope Francis lauded the initiative as a symbol of respect for diversity and as a testimony that faith should nurture goodness, dialogue, respect, and peace.
He thanked everyone involved in the project and expressed his confidence that it would become a benchmark for religious dialogue and interfaith coexistence.
Pope Francis also called upon the young people to be builders of peace and not purveyors of violence. He urged the need for empowering the youth with tools to protect them from negative influences and exhorted them to let faith guide them to betterment and peace.
Addressing the upcoming COP28, which is set to take place in the UAE from November 30 to December 12, Pope Francis described it as an urgent call to respond to the environmental crisis. He expressed his hopes for successful endeavors in favor of our planet and called for realistic solutions to the climate crisis.
During the interview, the Pope took a moment to assure millions of well-wishers around the world who had prayed for his recovery following a recent surgery. “The journey was arduous, but now, with gratitude in my heart, I can say that I am on the mend,” he said. “In this moment, my thoughts are with all those who are battling illnesses. I pray for their swift recovery and that, even in the bleakness that illness can sometimes bring, they find the fortitude to embrace the essence of life, the illumination of faith, and the exuberance of hope.”