· Vatican City ·

‘Today is a time of fraternity’

04 February 2022

At the end of his catechesis on Wednesday, 2 February, the Pope made an appeal for peace in Myanmar, inviting the faithful not to turn a blind eye to the suffering of our brothers and sisters in the south-east Asian country. He then recalled that 4 February marks International Day of Human Fraternity as well as the beginning of the Winter Olympics. The General Audience concluded with the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

For a year now, we have been watching the violence and bloodshed in Myanmar, with sorrow. I echo the appeal of the Burmese bishops that the international community may work for reconciliation between the parties concerned. We cannot look away from the suffering of so many brothers and sisters. Let us ask God in prayer for consolation for this tormented population. Let us entrust to him the efforts towards peace.

The day after tomorrow, 4 February, we will celebrate the Second International Day of Human Fraternity. It is a cause for satisfaction that the Nations of the entire world are joining in this celebration aimed at promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue, as also called for in the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi, by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, and by myself. Fraternity means lending a helping hand to others, respecting them and listening to them with an open heart. I hope that concrete steps will be taken together with the believers of other religions, and also with people of good will, to affirm that today is a time of fraternity, avoiding fuelling clashes, divisions, and closures. Let us pray and be committed every day so that we may all live in peace as brothers and sisters.

The Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are about to open in Beijing, on 4 February and 4 March respectively. I warmly greet all participants. I wish the organizers every success and to the athletes that they may give their very best. Sports, with its universal language, can build bridges of friendship and solidarity between individuals and peoples of all cultures and religions. I therefore appreciate the fact that the International Olympic Committee has added the word “communiter”, that is, “together” to the historic Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius”, that is, “faster, higher, stronger”: so that the Olympic Games may bring about a more fraternal world.

With a special thought, I embrace the whole Paralympic world: we will win the most important medal together, if the example of athletes with disabilities will help everyone to overcome prejudices and fears and to make our communities more welcoming and inclusive. This is the real gold medal. I also follow with attention and emotion the personal stories of refugee athletes. May their witness help to encourage civil societies to open up with ever greater confidence to all, leaving no one behind. I wish the great Olympic and Paralympic family a unique experience of human fraternity and peace: blessed are the peacemakers! (Mt 5:9).