Document on Human Fraternity

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The Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, also known as the Abu Dhabi declaration[1] or Abu Dhabi agreement,[2] is a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The document was born of a fraternal open discussion between Francis and Tayeb and is concerned with how different faiths can live peaceably in the same world and it is meant to be a guide on advancing a "culture of mutual respect".

On the base of the Document on Human Fraternity has been established the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, an international committee instituted to fulfill the aspirations of the Document on Human Fraternity.[3] The principles of compassion and human solidarity embodied in this text are the same ones that later inspired the declaration that designated February 4 as the International Day of Human Fraternity, as it has been stated by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in different occasions.[4][5]

In his encyclical Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis stated this document "was no mere diplomatic gesture, but a reflection born of dialogue and common commitment."[6]

Basic concept[edit]

The document is concerned with how different faiths can live peaceably in the same world and areas. It is a document of theology.[a] In the document:[9]

  • Francis and Tayeb "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."
  • They called on world leaders "to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing."
  • They asked leaders and would-be influencers "to rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere."
  • They said that "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."


The document suggests one chain of causality for religious and national extremism: "a moral deterioration" in international action and "a weakening of spiritual values" causing "frustration, isolation and desperation", leading some to fall "into a vortex of […] extremism", leading some to "individual or collective self-destruction".[9]

The body of the document has a paragraph to uphold each of these values:

  • "peace";
  • "freedom […] of every person";
  • "justice based on mercy";
  • "dialogue" in order to promote "peace" and "tolerance", noting that "dialogue among believers" needs to avoid "unproductive discussions";
  • "protection of places of worship";
  • the necessity "to stop […] terrorism", particularly naming "financing, the provision of weapons", and "using media […] to justify" terrorism;
  • "full citizenship";
  • "[g]ood relations between East and West";
  • "the right of women";
  • "protection of the fundamental rights of children";
  • "protection of the rights of the elderly, the weak, the disabled, and the oppressed".

Response and criticism[edit]

Diversity of religions[edit]

Some commentary focuses on "novel theological formulations ... and questionable assertions of facts",[b] particularly on the passage about God's will with regard to the diversity of religions:[9]

Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept. (Emphasis added.)

Chad Pecknold, a systematic theologian at the Catholic University of America,[11][12] assesses this claim as "fitting [...] [i]n sensitive inter-religious contexts, [...] but some may find it puzzling to hear the Vicar of Christ talk about God willing the diversity of religions".[c] Adam Rasmussen, an openly "pro-Francis partisan"[11] at Georgetown University,[14] hails "the pope's praiseworthy attempt" by quoting "St. (Mother) Teresa",[d] Nostra aetate and Evangelii gaudium, thereby suspecting "that Francis may be at least somewhat familiar with his fellow Jesuit" Jacques Dupuis and his book Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism.[11]

Athanasius Schneider states under reference to Holy Scripture, Tertullian, Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Saint Athanasius, Saint Augustine, the Magisterium (Humanum genus, Dominus Jesus), the Apostles and Christian martyrs, as well as the Roman Liturgy – viz. the hymn of Lauds of the Feast of Christ the King:

According to the will of Christ, faith in Him and in His Divine teaching must replace other religions, however not by force, but by loving persuasion, as expressed in the hymn of Lauds of the Feast of Christ the King: "Non Ille regna cladibus, non vi metuque subdidit: alto levatus stipite, amore traxit omnia" ("Not with sword, force and fear He subjects peoples, but lifted up on the Cross He lovingly draws all things to Himself").

— Athanasius Schneider, The Gift of Filial Adoption[e]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whether this document "is not Catholic doctrine … can only be formally and officially decided by the pope".[7] "Pope Francis … seems quite willing to employ novel theological formulations … and questionable assertions of facts. ...There are some pronouncements about God's will in it that are nowhere to be found … in the gospels."[8]
  2. ^ "[T]here are some pronouncements about God's will in it that are nowhere to be found […] in the gospels."[8] Cf. Acts 4:12, referred to by Roberto de Mattei:[10] "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
  3. ^ "It is puzzling, and potentially problematic, but in the context of the document, the Holy Father is clearly referring not to the evil of many false religions, but positively refers to the diversity of religions only in the sense that they are evidence of our natural desire to know God."[13]
  4. ^ "When I asked her whether she converted, she answered, 'Yes, I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu, or a better Muslim, or a better Protestant, or a better Catholic, or a better Parsee, or a better Sikh, or a better Buddhist. And after you have found God, it is for you to do what God wants you to do.'"[15]
  5. ^ Published by 1P5 and LifeSiteNews,[16] with follow-up by Steve Skojec.[17][18]


  1. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah (26 August 2019). "Pope Francis lends support to committee on Abu Dhabi declaration". Catholic News Agency. Archived from the original on 13 September 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  2. ^ Reese, Thomas (4 October 2020). "Five things to look for in Pope Francis' new encyclical, 'Fratelli Tutti'". Religion News Service. Archived from the original on 6 October 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  3. ^ The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity homepage,
  4. ^ Nations, United. "First-ever International Day of Human Fraternity focuses on tolerance | United Nations". United Nations. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  5. ^ Nations, United. "Secretary-General's message for 2022 | International Day of Human Fraternity". United Nations. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  6. ^ Altieri, Christopher (4 October 2020). "Pope Francis releases Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti". Catholic Herald. Archived from the original on 4 October 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  7. ^ Sungenis 2016.
  8. ^ a b Kilpatrick 2019b.
  9. ^ a b c Document on Human Fraternity 2019.
  10. ^ de Mattei, Roberto (4 April 2019). "De Mattei on the Francis Pontificate: Six Years of 'Hypocrisy and Lies'" (Interview). Interviewed by Aldo Maria Valli. OnePeterFive. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  11. ^ a b c Rasmussen 2019.
  12. ^ CUA 2019.
  13. ^ Rezac 2019.
  14. ^ GU 2019.
  15. ^ Kolodiejchuk 2015.
  16. ^ "Bishop Schneider: The Christian Faith Is the Only Valid and the Only God-Willed Religion". OnePeterFive. 8 February 2019. Archived from the original on 10 February 2019. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  17. ^ Skojec, Steve (8 March 2019). "Bishop Schneider Obtains Entirely Unhelpful Peronist Response From Francis on 'Diversity of Religions'". OnePeterFive. Archived from the original on 14 March 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  18. ^ Skojec, Steve (2 April 2019). "Vatican's Dialogue Delusion Continues". OnePeterFive. Archived from the original on 9 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2019.


External link[edit]