An embrace as great as Bernini’s Colonnade, made up of many young people holding hands as a symbol of human fraternity. Each young person wore a shirt displaying the flag of a different country. Meanwhile, the song “We are the World” could be heard in Saint Peter’s Square and throughout the world, on Vatican Media, Rai 1 and the Fratelli Tutti Foundation’s social network.
This was one of the most significant moments of the first world Meeting on Human Fraternity, which took place on Saturday afternoon, 10 June, in Saint Peter’s Square. The theme of the Meeting’s first edition was #NotAlone.
Promoted by the institution inspired by and named after Pope Francis’ Encyclical Fratelli Tutti and hosted by Italian television presenter, Carlo Conti, the initiative included a time for debate in the morning and a public conversation in the afternoon which took place in the Vatican. At 4:00 pm in Saint Peter’s Square, moments of music, dance and testimonials, were streamed live from eight squares around the world.
The highlight of the Meeting was the signing of the Declaration on Human Fraternity, which was drafted in the morning by 30 Nobel prize laureates. The text, which sounds like an appeal for peace and social justice, was read aloud by Nadia Murad, a human rights activist in Iraq and Nobel Peace Prize recipient in 2018; and by Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi promoter of microcredit, who received the Nobel Prize in 2006. “Let us counter hatred with love”, the document reads, and “create a society of peace [...] healing the land stained by the blood of violence and hatred, by social inequalities and corruption of the heart”.
Co-signing the Declaration on behalf of Pope Francis, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said, “we have many problems in the world, but we also have an answer, a main road on which we can all walk to try to resolve these difficulties with good will and effort”. It is the “path of fraternity”, he continued, which the Church “has always shown the world and which Pope Francis has taken up in a very precise way and outlined in the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti”. This is why everything that goes towards “human fraternity can truly be a way to build a new, diverse world of peace and solidarity”, and this “gesture which we have accomplished goes precisely in this direction”. The Cardinal then shared his hope that the Declaration will be applied to daily life, not by delegating to others, but rather, by everyone doing their part. Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, ofm. Conv., President of the Foundation, read the message Pope Francis had sent for the event.