By Elena Dini
ROME — One year after the publication of the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, The Lay Centre is pleased to host an evening that will encourage reflection on what is being done and what more could be done at the grassroots level to foster fraternity among Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Three well-respected international speakers — Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, M.Afr., Dr. Sharon Rosen, and Dr. Nayla Tabbara — will discuss the theme, “Planting Seeds of Hope: Grassroots Initiatives on Creating a Culture of Dialogue,” Feb. 20. Register here.
The document, issued by the most widely recognized Christian and Muslim leaders in the world, explicitly addresses Christians and Muslims, but aims to reach all human beings. The conclusion states as much: “Our aspiration is that: this Declaration may constitute an invitation to reconciliation and fraternity among all believers, indeed among believers and non-believers, and among all people of good will.”
Cardinal Fitzgerald is a leading expert in Christian-Muslim dialogue. He served as the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, from 2002 to 2006, and then as the apostolic nuncio to Egypt and delegate to the League of Arab States. Now based in Liverpool, England, Cardinal Fitzgerald will share his thoughts on what he considers to be a “courageous” and “realistic document” that takes into account the “change and progress in the world today,” yet recognizes “the presence of constant conflict and the injustice of inequality that exists in our world.”
Dr. Sharon Rosen is the global director of religious engagement at Search for Common Ground, a world-renowned NGO that is active in about 30 countries and focuses on conflict transformation as a way to building peace. Based in Jerusalem, Dr. Rosen will comment on the “Document on Human Fraternity” from her standpoint as a practicing Jew and a woman.
Dr. Nayla Tabbara is a Muslim theologian and a founding member of Adyan, Foundation for Diversity, Solidarity and Human Dignity, a Lebanese NGO. Adyan’s website says the foundation “works locally, regionally and internationally for pluralism, inclusive citizenship, community resilience, and spiritual solidarity, through homegrown solutions in education, media, policy, and intercultural and interreligious relations.” Dr. Tabbara was a Nostra Aetate Fellow and studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 2001.
Each speaker will share their reflections on the document, as well as the grassroots activities in which they participate to demonstrate how the words put to paper could be translated into practice. Participants will hear about best practices from Liverpool and Jerusalem, as well as from Nigeria and Lebanon.
Dr. Seŕn-Patrick Lovett, director of the English section of the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See, will moderate the roundtable discussion and Q&A period that will follow.
The roundtable will lead into a Vespers service. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R, the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and Lay Centre board member will preside at Vespers.
The evening will conclude with a reception and the presentation of a new book, published by The Lay Centre and Libreria Editrice Vaticana, “Full, Conscious and Active. Lay Participation in the Church’s Dialogue with the World.” The book aims to encourage greater dialogue within the Church on the lay vocation. It was co-edited by Dr. Donna Orsuto, director of The Lay Centre, and Dr. Robert S. White. Read more here.