His Holiness Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, met with the judging committee for the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity 2022 - the third edition of the award - on Wednesday at the Vatican, emphasizing to the jury how important their work is for the world.
Pope Francis called his historic meeting with His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Professor Ahmed Al-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates the “first step” along the path of human fraternity. Pope Francis told the jury that “we have to maintain and sustain” the meeting and its message, embodied in the Document on Human Fraternity.
For their part, the ZAHF judging committee members expressed to the Pope their deep appreciation for His Holiness’ support for the committee and their noble mission and affirmed that their judging process relies on the values of the Document on Human Fraternity, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in 2019 in Abu Dhabi, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and patron of human fraternity.
The independent Zayed Award for Human Fraternity 2022 judging committee includes former president of Niger and winner of the 2020 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, 1996 Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of East Timor H.E. José Ramos-Horta, former Deputy President of South Africa and former UN Under-Secretary-General H.E. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Holy See H.Em. Cardinal Michael Czerny, president of the Aladdin Project Leah Pisar, and Secretary-General of the Higher Committee on Human Fraternity (HCHF) Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam.
In commenting on the meeting, Judge Abdelsalam, former advisor to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the first Arab Muslim to receive the Catholic pope’s highest honor, said: “It is an honor for the judging committee to meet with His Holiness Pope Francis, whose joint path of human fraternity alongside the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar serves as inspiration to the committee and to the world, which is suffering from humanitarian and health crises, as well as the plagues of selfishness, inequality, and injustice.”
Following the visit with Pope Francis, the judging committee held its first in-person meeting in Rome, discussing evaluation mechanisms in deciding the 2022 award honoree(s).
The Zayed Award for Human Fraternity aims to advance human fraternity values – what Pope Francis has called “the challenge of our century” – by recognizing individuals and entities who have made profound contributions to advancing human fraternity values and peaceful coexistence.
The award, which is granted by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, was established in February 2019 to mark the historic meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, where the two great figures signed the Document on Human Fraternity and became the first honorary recipients of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.
Wednesday’s meeting between Pope Francis and the judging committee was organized by the HCHF, which grants the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity annually. The HCHF is an independent international committee instituted to promote human fraternity values around the world and to fulfill the aspirations of the Document on Human Fraternity.
The nominations process for the ZAHF 2022 is scheduled to close on December 1, 2021 and the honoree(s) will be announced on February 4, 2022. Nominations can be made by qualified nominators through the official website of the Zayed Award of Human Fraternity, zayedaward.org.