Pope Francis, Israel’s chief rabbis discuss interfaith coexistence in Kazakhstan

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The VII Congress of Leaders of World And Traditional Religions in Astana, Kazakhstan in Sept. 2022. Photo: Courtesy.

Religious brotherhood is a prerequisite for “global international brotherhood,” the grand imam of al-Azhar said at the conference.

 Pope Francis and both of Israel’s chief rabbis, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, discussed peaceful coexistence and cooperation between religions in meetings and on the sidelines of an interfaith event held last week in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The clergymen were among many who gathered at the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, an event that unites representatives from the world’s major religions with the goal of establishing peace, harmony, tolerance and respect between faiths.

Rabbi Yosef spoke at the congress about the importance of compromise and peace in society. Pope Francis delivered the event’s closing speech.

“Time has come to make our hearts clear, to put aside the history books and leave away the conversations that have long engendered distrust of religion,” the pontiff declared. “Religion is not the problem but something that promotes harmonious living in society. We need religion to quench our thirst for peace.”

The pope continued, saying, “We should listen to the weakest, those in need. The pandemic has demonstrated all the inequalities of our planet…Believers in the divine must help our sisters and brothers not to forget that the human characteristic is vulnerability.”

Also at the event, Rabbi Yosef and Rabbi Lau met the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Cairo Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the highest religious authority in the Sunni Muslim world.

The sheikh spoke at the event’s plenary session about “religious brotherhood,” saying it is “a prerequisite for global international brotherhood.” He added, “I do not call for merging all religions into one…I call for serious work to strengthen the values of all religions.”

 

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