The Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyeka, has commended the Nigerian government for signing the human fraternity document of the United Nations.
According to The PUNCH, he stated this at the International Day of Human Fraternity, organised by the Department of Mission and Dialogue, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria in Abuja.
The Declaration on human fraternity signed in 2019 by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, aims to leave a legacy of tolerance and understanding among the world’s religions.
According to him, despite the fact that the letter was signed by the Pope and delivered to all bishops, Nigerian religious leaders, including those in the Catholic church, have done little to address it.
“As we say before, our government endorsed this document in New York. Not only that, it was brought back to Abuja and decision was taken on that February 4 that it will be celebrated also in Nigeria as a day of human fraternity. This means that our government has decided to push this document beyond mere formality.
“I am not sure I saw anything seriously in the government circles on February 4 this year. I think we should congratulate our nation for being among those countries that supported this document on human fraternity at the united nations,” he said.
According to Onaiyekan, the paper emphasized the significance of religion in promoting world peace and harmony.
He said, “It has been said many times before that if Christianity and Islam can come together in the name of God for peace, the world will enjoy peace. Unfortunately, we have not seen that happening yet. Instead, we have continued with the old and bad habit of killing one another in the name of God whether as Jihad for Muslims or Crusade for Christians.
“It is therefore very uplifting to find the greatest leader of Islam and Christianity coming together to insist and work for one peace based on the fact of our human fraternity.
“One of our biggest problems in ecumenism is how do we relate with non-Christians? It’s a problem between Catholics and non-Catholics. Can we agree on how to see people who are non-Christians? It’s difficult for all Muslims to agree on how we see non-Muslims. But in this particular case, where a document like this is signed by the Pope without the view of other Christian bodies, will other Christian groups come out and endorse it?
“As for the Muslim community, even though Al-Tayeb is technically speaking as head of the Sunni community, the document came out and was widely accepted by all Muslim religious leaders, especially including the Shiites who are the next significant Muslim community in the world after the Sunni.
“During two world conferences of world religious leaders, this document was presented to the world religious leaders who endorsed it. The document of human fraternity was presented and endorsed by more than 200 religious leaders from the whole world, this time not just Christians and Muslims but also Buddhists, Hindus and other religious groups in the world.
“Now, the document has become not just the document of the Pope and Imam; Christians and Muslims, it has now become a document of world religious leaders who have accepted as a guide that they may use in improving relationships between religions all over the world. This document became accepted in the secular world,” he said.