[Editor’s Note: The writer is a Catholic priest based in Florence]
The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will sign a new encyclical on “human fraternity” (Fratelli Tutti) that will include praise for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – a known terror supporter and inciter, and a rabid antisemite.
An encyclical, or letter from the pope, is a serious and important form of communication by a pope historically used to clarify teachings or express the pope’s opinion on any given issue.
The title, Fratelli tutti, whose official English-language version has not yet been released, is a reference to the writings of St. Francis: “Let us all, brothers, consider the Good Shepherd who to save His sheep bore the suffering of the Cross.”
As reported by Vatican News, Pope Francis chose the “theme of fraternity” for this encyclical in order to manifest his “constant embrace of migrants, epitomized in his pastoral visit to Lampedusa [Italy].”
Aside from the dilemma posed by open borders, there are two agendas that should raise eyebrows. The encyclical is:
- A follow-up to his “signing of the Document on Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi in 2019” with Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University;
- A method to express his “dedication to promoting brotherly love” with non-Christians, including praise of Islamists such as the terrorist-linked Mahmoud Abbas.
Fratelli tutti is bound to evade the topic of human rights violations that stem from Islamism (i.e., political Islam). As recently stated by Raheel Raza — a Sunni Muslim, spokesperson for the Clarion Project and president of Muslims Facing Tomorrow — by refusing to acknowledge these issues, “We abandon human rights in favor of political correctness.”
When Pope Francis made his “historic” trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in February 2019 — the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula — he did so to visit the Catholic faithful and others who identify themselves as Christians.
He also did so because he was invited to the UAE by notable Muslim leaders so that he could take part in the “International Interfaith Meeting on Human Fraternity” and speak to the UAE’s ruling body, as well as representatives of other Islamic governments.
The double-edge sword in the papal trip lied with the co-signee of the aforementioned document, el-Tayeb, as well as the body politic in Abu Dhabi.
Imam el-Tayeb, while considered by some as a moderate within the Sunni world, including the pope, is an advocate of hardline sharia law, an antisemite and anti-Israel.
In a television interview on June 16, 2016, he stated, “The penalty for an open apostate, departing from the community, is well stipulated in sharia. An apostate must be pressed upon to repent within a variable period of time or be killed.”
There is no record that he ever retracted his antisemitic remarks against Israel and the Jews.
Yet, the pope only exulted him for his so-called role in fostering peace in the Middle East. In like manner, Francis never touched upon the UAE’s human rights violations while in the country.
During his trip, the pope hailed the sharia-governed UAE as the “homeland of tolerance,” echoing the UAE’s rulers, which declared 2019 the “Year of Tolerance.”
Yet according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) 2020 report, the UAE is incredibly intolerant when it comes to pro-democracy and peaceful dissenters.
While Francis tried to depict the UAE as a land where different religions get along well with each other and one in which ethnic groups coexist peacefully, this is quite far from the truth.
The ruling regime in the Emirates is in fact one of the most repressive and authoritarian regimes in the world with its terrible record of torturing human rights activists.
Their record is so bad that Wenzel Michalski, director of Human Rights Watch in Germany, stated that, “The state’s fear of criticism must be extreme so that anyone who dares to criticize the political situation or human rights in the country can be now defamed as a ‘terrorist’ and therefore can face correspondingly harsh punishments.”
A case in point has been that of Ahmed Mansoor, an award-winning human rights activist sentenced to 10 years in prison solely for exercising his right to free expression; he went on a hunger strike to protest his prison conditions and unjust conviction.
Other activists who have completed their sentences as long as three years ago continue to be detained without a clear legal basis.
During detention, Mansoor, like so many other detainees, was not only denied legal representation but was also subjected to torture and solitary confinement.
What then should we expect from Fratelli tutti next month?
One would expect Pope Francis, in line with his predecessor Benedict XVI, to directly address the problem with Islamism, among others atrocities.
Without a doubt he will touch upon the environment and criticize, as he has in the past, countries for not taking in every illegal immigrant that shows up at their front door.
If next month’s encyclical is reflective of how he reacted to Turkish President Recep Erdogan converting the Hagia Sophia and the historical Chora church into mosques, outside of expressing “sadness,” we should not hold our breath that he will take on terrorist-minded Islamists.