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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Document on Human Fraternity

 

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The “Document on Human Fraternity” was signed today (Feb. 4, 2019) between Pope Francis and the Sunni Muslim Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb. The document seems to falter in asserting that God desires or wills a plurality of religions.  It states that the Church has “esteem” for Muslims.  Really, is this so?  We fought nine brutal and bloody crusades to repulse their influence and to free the Holy Land. Most students of religion know that Islam reveres Jesus as a prophet.  Why would we praise in this document such a concession when such would be condemned of any breakaway Christian sect?  If Jesus is not God then we are still in our sins.  Yes, it is also true that they honor the Blessed Virgin Mary as the mother of a prophet.  However, do they truly love her?  Do they appreciate that she is the unique handmaid of the Lord and that the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and that the incarnation took place in her womb?  No, they do not.  Mary is NOT the mother of a prophet; rather, she is the Mother of God!  While fragments of the truth are found, can it really be said that they are saving truths?  No, this is not the case even though God saves whom he wills.  But it may be that all this is the peculiar language of a political or diplomatic statement, not to be understood doctrinally.

The Muslims of Turkey still refuse to return the ancient imperial church of Hagia Sofia to Christians.  This would be a great “practical” first start toward healing with the Church, both East and West.  But I am doubtful we will witness such a concession any time soon.

Again, the various religions may reflect an innate yearning for God and in antiquity may have foreshadowed the coming revelation; however, it is only Jesus that is the Way and the Truth and the Life.

Unlike the Bible where verses that espouse violence are historically conditioned and sequestered, the Quran leaves such admonitions open to the present.  Moderate Muslims might argue their abrogation but many other believers seem to have a fundamentalist view that cites violence or jihad as constitutive of their faith.  Who determines the current interpretation.  Unlike Catholicism, Islam has no worldwide magisterium.

What do readers think about the passages below?  It all sounds good but will it be translated into acts that make a positive difference?

SELECTIONS FROM THE DOCUMENT

In the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and who has called them to live together as brothers and sisters, to fill the earth and make known the values of goodness, love and peace.

In the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill, affirming that whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity, and that whoever saves a person is like one who saves the whole of humanity.

In the name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized and those most in need whom God has commanded us to help as a duty required of all persons, especially the wealthy and of means.

In the name of orphans, widows, refugees and those exiled from their homes and their countries; in the name of all victims of wars, persecution and injustice; in the name of the weak, those who live in fear, prisoners of war and those tortured in any part of the world, without distinction.

In the name of peoples who have lost their security, peace, and the possibility of living together, becoming victims of destruction, calamity and war.

In the name of human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal.

In the name of this fraternity torn apart by policies of extremism and division, by systems of unrestrained profit or by hateful ideological tendencies that manipulate the actions and the future of men and women.

In the name of freedom, that God has given to all human beings creating them free and distinguishing them by this gift.

In the name of justice and mercy, the foundations of prosperity and the cornerstone of faith.

In the name of all persons of good will present in every part of the world.

In the name of God and of everything stated thus far; Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the Muslims of the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the Catholics of the East and West, declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.

Protection of Worship Sites – The protection of places of worship – synagogues, churches and mosques – is a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements. Every attempt to attack places of worship or threaten them by violent assaults, bombings or destruction, is a deviation from the teachings of religions as well as a clear violation of international law.

Renouncing Terrorism – Terrorism is deplorable and threatens the security of people, be they in the East or the West, the North or the South, and disseminates panic, terror and pessimism, but this is not due to religion, even when terrorists instrumentalize it. It is due, rather, to an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride. This is why it is so necessary to stop supporting terrorist movements fueled by financing, the provision of weapons and strategy, and by attempts to justify these movements even using the media. All these must be regarded as international crimes that threaten security and world peace. Such terrorism must be condemned in all its forms and expressions.

Equal Rights & Duties of Citizens – The concept of citizenship is based on the equality of rights and duties, under which all enjoy justice. It is therefore crucial to establish in our societies the concept of full citizenship and reject the discriminatory use of the term minorities which engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority. Its misuse paves the way for hostility and discord; it undoes any successes and takes away the religious and civil rights of some citizens who are thus discriminated against.

Rights of Women – To recognize the right of women to education and employment, and to recognize their freedom to exercise their own political rights. Moreover, efforts must be made to free women from historical and social conditioning that runs contrary to the principles of their faith and dignity. It is also necessary to protect women from sexual exploitation and from being treated as merchandise or objects of pleasure or financial gain. Accordingly, an end must be brought to all those inhuman and vulgar practices that denigrate the dignity of women. Efforts must be made to modify those laws that prevent women from fully enjoying their rights.

Rights of Children – The protection of the fundamental rights of children to grow up in a family environment, to receive nutrition, education and support, are duties of the family and society. Such duties must be guaranteed and protected so that they are not overlooked or denied to any child in any part of the world. All those practices that violate the dignity and rights of children must be denounced. It is equally important to be vigilant against the dangers that they are exposed to, particularly in the digital world, and to consider as a crime the trafficking of their innocence and all violations of their youth.

Rights of the Elderly & Disabled – The protection of the rights of the elderly, the weak, the disabled, and the oppressed is a religious and social obligation that must be guaranteed and defended through strict legislation and the implementation of the relevant international agreements.

One Response

  1. Not being malign, but Muslims don’t count Jesus as a Son of God and they utterly believe that Islam is the last completed and consistent word of God

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