On the occasion of the first International Day of Human Fraternity, which will be celebrated tomorrow, 4 February 2021, Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ, Chair of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, welcomed the UN Declaration, saying:

“The Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together shows us clearly that there is more that unites us all as human beings, and as believers in God, than that which is too readily focused on as cause for division. This Document, alongside the most recent Papal Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, which takes up and develops some of the great themes raised in the Document, highlights the common bonds of humanity that unite us, and the challenges that face us all, including ongoing injustice in the world, poverty, extremism and environmental degradation. In the face of these challenges, Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti points repeatedly to the Good Samaritan as the guide for our own actions towards others. The Good Samaritan became a true neighbour to the wounded Judean by not passing by, too preoccupied with his own affairs, but by approaching and making himself present. In so doing he crosses all cultural, religious and historical barriers to care for his fellow man. Jesus concludes the parable by saying simply: “Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37). Pope Francis explains: ‘In other words, he challenges us to put aside all differences and, in the face of suffering, to draw near to others with no questions asked. I should no longer say that I have neighbours to help, but that I must myself be a neighbour to others.’[1] On this day I hope that we will reflect on this passage and increase our efforts toward inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, the promotion of a culture of tolerance and acceptance of others and of living together peacefully which ‘would contribute significantly to reducing many economic, social, political and environmental problems that weigh so heavily on a large part of humanity’. [2]

In December 2020 the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation adopted a Resolution declaring 4 February as the International Day of Human Fraternity. This was to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the ‘Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together’ by Pope Francis and The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb. Introducing this Document in 2019, Pope Francis and The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar together affirmed that ‘Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved. Through faith in God, who has created the universe, creatures and all human beings (equal on account of his mercy), believers are called to express this human fraternity by safeguarding creation and the entire universe and supporting all persons, especially the poorest and those most in need.’ [3]


Notes for Editors

Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ is Bishop of Raphoe and Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Justice & Peace.
The role of the Council for Justice & Peace is to support the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in promoting the social teaching of the Church and to advise on issues of social concern, both nationally and internationally.

On 4 February 2019, during the apostolic journey of His Holiness to the United Arab Emirates, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, signed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, also known as the Document on Human Fraternity.

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