MANAMA, 24th May, 2023 (WAM) — The Permanent Committee for Islamic-Christian Dialogue between the Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue and the Muslim Council of Elders held its first meeting in the Kingdom of Bahrain to discuss ways of unifying joint efforts based on the role of religious leaders in facing contemporary global challenges and promoting Islamic-Christian dialogue and cooperation.
The statement affirmed that the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi represents a civilised model that preserves the uniqueness of each religion and promotes human acquaintance based on the Quranic principle “To you, your religion; to me, mine.” It also emphasised that the Abrahamic Family House embodies a practical application of the 2019 Abu Dhabi Document on Human Fraternity which was co-signed by Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, and Pope Francis, Pontiff of the Catholic Church under the patronage of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Abrahamic Family House serves as a foundation for humanitarian dialogue among people of different religions and a humanitarian basis for coexistence and human fraternity.
The committee also emphasised the importance of enhancing citizenship and abandoning the exclusionary use of the terms “minority” and “majority”. It also commended the Al-Azhar Declaration on Citizenship issued during the ‘Freedom and Citizenship: Diversity and Integration’ conference held in Egypt between Al-Azhar and the Muslim Council of Elders, as well as the principles stated in the Document on Human Fraternity and the Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration for Peacful Coexistence.
The statement also noted the importance of efforts by religious leaders in addressing the negative impacts of climate change and the dangers it poses to the future of humanity. It highlighted the role that interreligious and intercultural dialogue can play in enhancing the involvement of religious leaders and institutions in confronting climate change during the upcoming COP28 conference. It also expressed its support for the United Nations and the United Arab Emirates in organising the COP28 conference to achieve effective solutions to address the negative climate impacts that threaten the future and well-being of humanity.
The statement pointed to the need to prepare a future project that includes various initiatives to enhance dialogue among people of different religions, with a special focus on Islamic-Christian dialogue. Such peace initiatives can be discussed and agreed upon at a later stage.
The Permanent Committee for Islamic-Christian Dialogue expressed its utmost gratitude to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the King of Bahrain, and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain for hosting the committee’s inaugural meeting and supporting its findings of strengthening bridges of communication, promoting values of tolerance, mutual respect, and coexistence. The committee also acknowledged the Kingdom of Bahrain’s role in promoting dialogue, human fraternity and coexistence.
The meeting was attended by Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso, President of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders, Professor Dr. Abbas Shouman, former Deputy of Al-Azhar, Al Sayyid Ali Al-Amine, member of the Muslim Council of Elders, Datuk Senator Dr. Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, member of the Muslim Council of Elders, member of the Malaysian Senate and Malaysia’s former Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dr. Shaykh Abdulrahman Derar Al Shaer, member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in the Kingdom of Bahrain representing Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in the Kingdom of Bahrain and member of the Muslim Council of Elders, Dr. Mohammad Al-Sammak, Secretary-General of the National Committee for Christian-Muslim Dialogue in Lebanon, Monsignor Khaled Akasheh, Secretary of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue and Monsignor Aldo Berardi, Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia.
The Permanent Committee for Islamic-Christian Dialogue was established under a joint memorandum of understanding between the Abu Dhabi-based Muslim Council of Elders and the Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue.