Greeting from His Excellency
Archbishop Dr Nikola Eterović
on the International Day for Tolerance
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates Berlin
Ladies and Gentlemen!
On November 16, 1995, 185 States signed a UNESCO Declaration in agreement on the upholding of the principles of tolerance. Consequently, this very day was designated as the International Day for Tolerance. I am honoured to be able to greet you warmly today and I would like to thank the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Her Excellency Hafsa Al Ulama, for taking the initiative to invite me to this meeting.
Tolerance is, on the one hand, a virtue to be asked for, and on the other, it is to be assiduously practiced anew. This is particularly true in the diplomatic service, where we are called to continually prove ourselves in this virtue. In this context and on this august occasion, I would like to recall the Document on Human Fraternity, signed in Abu Dhabi on February 4, 2019, by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and His Holiness Pope Francis.
The desired common goal of this mutual agreement is nothing less than “to seek to achieve with the aim of finding a universal peace that all can enjoy in this life”. To take the right steps on what is certainly still a long way to go, it is important to keep in mind the milestones enshrined in the Document, i.e. to adopt, in the name of God, a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard”.
One of the common threads that binds all Abrahamic religions together is the belief that man is a being created by God with dignity and freedom, who is called to take care of those who suffer in this world from the many forms of misery.
The visage common to all mankind should not rise in anguish and tears, but should rather shine with joy in the awareness that humanity is capable of enduring the many differences that exists between religions, cultures and worldviews, and perhaps even more so, of seeing in them a reflection of the divine creative power. To this end, while we must not fail to practice tolerance unceasingly, we must also seek it in prayers, since it is, as I have mentioned earlier, a virtue to be asked for, and for this, every person, and even more so, every nation, needs to pray to the One whom they all call God. Indeed, in the prayer of the United Nations, we read: “Grant us that courage and foreseeing to begin this task today that our children and our children’s children may be proud of the name of man”.
No individual or nation, however, can achieve this objective alone. What is needed is the will to be together. A human being, who perceives himself as a created being, cannot in good conscience see another fellow human being as an enemy, but rather is inspired by the desire to understand him as his sister or brother who, like him, owes his existence to the Creator. In this way, humanity is not something artificial, but in the virtue of tolerance, it becomes something naturally creative.
This day of tolerance has existed since 1995. Certainly, there were setbacks along the way. However, they are always followed by courageous new beginnings. We all need these courageous new starts more than a long mourning of failures, as the Abu Dhabi Joint Document impressively exhorts us to “work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing”.
Thanking you again, Excellency Ambassador Hafsa Al Ulama, I greet all of you with a salutation that unites us: Salam, Shalom, Pax – Peace.