Pope Francis, Grand Imam Al-Tayyeb, and Ayatollah Al-Sistani: What Do Their Relationships Mean for Us?

September 27, 2021
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EDT
Location: Online Zoom Webinar

Pope Francis inspires global leadership and readily encourages bonds of friendship with other leaders like him. In early 2019, he and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayyeb (signing for a committee of Sunni religious leaders) issued a “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.” Two years later, in March 2021, on his first international journey since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Pope Francis accepted the invitation of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a highly revered Shia authority, to visit him at his humble quarters in Najaf, Iraq. According to the ayatollah’s offices, their extended “discussion revolved around the great challenges facing humanity, the role of faith in Almighty God, God's messages, and the high moral values needed to live up to them.”

What are we to make of these extraordinary relationships among global religious leaders? What ultimately do their agreements mean for Christians and Muslims? What can we hope that such unprecedented gestures of cooperation in Christian-Muslim relations will bring to humanity? A panel of religious leaders with extensive investment of time and effort in promoting dialogue and relations addressed these and other questions in a discussion moderated by the director of the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

Religious leaders … are called to be true ‘people of dialogue’, to cooperate in building peace not as intermediaries but as authentic mediators, … [each] called to be an artisan of peace, by uniting and not dividing, by extinguishing hatred and not holding on to it, by opening paths of dialogue and not by constructing new walls. (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, October 3, 2020)

This event was co-sponsored by the Office of the President, the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University.

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