ROME (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden joined Pope Francis and a leading Sunni imam on Friday in calling for greater global cooperation to fight the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other world crises on the second anniversary of a landmark Christian-Muslim peace initiative.
The Vatican released a statement from Biden marking the International Day of Human Fraternity, a U.N.-designated celebration of interfaith and multicultural understanding inspired by a landmark document signed on Feb. 4, 2019, in Abu Dhabi by Francis and Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyeb, the imam of the Al-Azhar center for Sunni learning in Cairo.
The document called for greater mutual understanding and solidarity to confront the problems facing the world. With the backing of the United Arab Emirates, the initiative has gone on to create a high-level commission to spread the message, and Friday’s anniversary celebration included a video message from Francis that was also translated into Hebrew.
In his statement, Biden said “for too long, the narrowed view that our shared prosperity is a zero-sum game has festered — the view that for one person to succeed, another has to fail…” Such a view, he said, had led to conflicts and crises that are today too big for one nation or people to solve.
“They require us to speak with one another in open dialogue to promote tolerance, inclusion and understanding,” he said.
Biden, a Catholic, met with Francis in October in a lengthy audience that touched on climate change, poverty and the pandemic.
“We all live under the same heaven, independently of where and how we live, the color of our skin, religion, social group, sex, age, economic conditions, or our state of health. All of us are different yet equal, and this time of pandemic has shown that clearly,” Francis said in his message.
El-Tayyib, for his part, issued a message greeting “my dear brother” Francis and called him “the incessantly courageous companion on the path of fraternity and peace.”
“We have embarked on this path in the hope for a new world that is free of wars and conflicts, where the fearful are reassured, the poor sustained, the vulnerable protected and justice administered,” he said.
While such objectives are “unacceptable for warmongers” he said “the road of peace is predestined for all the believers in God.”