“Dear brother!”. It is with these meaningful words that the Holy Father chose to start his letter addressed to Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, signed on 28 February and delivered on 9 March by Cardinal Ayuso Guixot, Prefect of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, on the occasion of the conference “Catholics and Shiites Facing the Future. Globalization of love against the globalization of indifference”, organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Al-Khoei Institute of Najaf in Iraq.
In the Letter the Pope recalled their meeting two years ago in Najaf (pictured), writing, “As I said on my return from Iraq ‘it did me good’”. He described it as “a milestone on the path of interreligious dialogue and understanding among people”.
“Collaboration and friendship among believers of different religions are indispensable”, the Pope wrote. Our communities can and must be “a privileged place of communion and a symbol of peaceful coexistence”, he emphasized, in the conviction “that respect for the dignity and rights of every person and every community, in particular freedom of religion, thought and expression”, is a source of personal and social serenity and harmony among peoples. Therefore, “it is also up to us, religious leaders, to encourage those who have responsibilities in civil society to work to affirm a culture based on justice and peace, promoting political actions that protect the fundamental rights of every person”. Referring also to the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, the Pope concluded by expressing the hope “that together, Christians and Muslims” may “be witnesses of truth, love and hope, in a world marked by numerous conflicts and therefore in need of compassion and healing”.