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During the historic first ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmad el-Tayeb signed together a declaration on “human fraternity for world peace and living together.”

“The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” – CCC 841

Pope Francis is in the United Arab Emirates, the first ever Apostolic Visit to the Arabian Peninsula, to participate in interfaith dialogue on “human fraternity” where he will also celebrate the first ever papal Mass with some of the UAE’s one million plus expatriate Catholics.

Yesterday, Pope Francis presided over the “human fraternity meeting” at the Founder’s Memorial, a national tribute dedicated to the founding father of the U.A.E. In attendance was some 400 religious leaders along with the Crown Prince and Vice President of Abu Dhabi.

At the meeting, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam signed the the “Abu Dhabi Declaration,” a joint peace declaration entitled: “A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.” It invited Catholics, Muslims and all who believe in God to work together to build a culture of love, peace and human fraternity.

“All persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.”

The document emphasizes the importance of religion in building a peaceful and free society under the challenges of an increasingly secular world that de-emphasizes religion.

“There exists both a moral deterioration that influences international action and a weakening of spiritual values and responsibility … leading many to fall either into a vortex of atheistic, agnostic or religious extremism, or into blind and fanatic extremism, which ultimately encourage forms of dependency and individual or collective self-destruction.”

The document condemns the “lack of equitable distribution of natural resources which only a rich minority benefit from.”

“This leads to catastrophic crises that various countries have fallen victim to despite their natural resources and the resourcefulness of young people which characterize these nations. In the face of such crises that result in the deaths of millions of children – wasted away from poverty and hunger – there is an unacceptable silence.”

The document also stated that religious plurality is willed by God.

“The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.”

In a speech before signing the declaration, Pope Francis said “hatred and violence” in the name of God is unjustifiable,

“God, the Almighty, has no need to be defended by anyone and does not want His name to be used to terrorize people.”

You can read the full peace declaration text on the Vatican’s website here.

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