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Yunus Meets Pope and Co-Chairs World Summit on Human Fraternity

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Thirty Nobel Peace Prize winners, scientists, economists, mayors, doctors, managers, workers, sports champions and ordinary citizens gathered on May 10-11 for the second World Meeting on Human Fraternity, a conference held in Vatican City to discuss ways of promoting human fraternity in the environment, education, business, agriculture, media and health. Two key  sessions were co-chaired by Nobel Peace Laureates Prof Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh and Dr. Rigoberta Menchù Tum from Guatemala.

Opening the round table discussion, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said that when people disrespect peace and wage war, “they set themselves in a direction opposed to creation and, by killing their fellow human beings, they not only assault the dignity of others but their own as well.”

The official declaration from the Peace Round Table urged for “an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, to stop the killing and ensure safe and unrestricted access to humanitarian aid.”

It further mentions, “We call on the international community to pursue with determination the two-state solution of one Israel and one Palestine, as well as an internationally guaranteed special status for the city of Jerusalem so that Israelis and Palestinians may finally live in peace and security.

The children of Gaza, nearly 14,000 killed by weapons of war or dying from hunger and disease, cannot shelter in hospitals that are being bombed and can no longer wait.

Humanitarian aid must be permitted in Gaza. Hostages and political prisoners must be immediately released.”

Muhammad Yunus, commented that more than the weapons, the way that humanity thinks about themselves while they design their economic and social framework that is the biggest threat to humanity.

“We have to rediscover ourselves as human beings with human values of sharing and caring and build the foundation of our economic and social framework which entails committing ourselves to creating a new civilization of three zeros: zero global warmings, zero wealth concentration and zero unemployment through firmly installing the concept and practice of social business in our economic framework,  Yunus noted in particular the problem of today’s “profit-maximizing” civilization, which is built on producing masses of “job seekers” and a handful of profit-maximizers with their wealth ballooning as a continuous process.

Bill Nelson, administrator of NASA and a former Democratic senator from Florida, highlighted how his career as an astronaut provoked a passion for human fraternity by repeatedly orbiting the earth and seeing the planet in its entirety.

“I did not see racial division from space, I did not see religious division, and I did not see political division. What I saw was we’re all in this together as citizens of planet Earth,”

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, an Indigenous Guatemalan human rights activist and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner, criticized the material, social and spiritual decadence of today’s society and insisted there is a need for people to “nurture our soul to be fully human.”

Graça Machel Mandela, former first lady of both South Africa and Mozambique, wife of Nelson Mandela, Vice Chairperson of the Elders, reflected on the institutions created by society, “which give some the right to think that they can control others, to the point where they believe they can even kill others.”

The participants met Pope Francis on May 11 in a private audience. Addressing some 350 participants in the Second World Meeting on Human Fraternity, Pope Francis encouraged them to persevere in their efforts to promote human fraternity in a broken world.

The Pope said, war is a deception – war is always a defeat –, as is the idea of international security based on the deterrent of fear. This too is a deception. To ensure lasting peace, we must return to a recognition of our common humanity and place fraternity at the center of people’s lives. Only in this way will we succeed in developing a model of coexistence capable of giving the human family a future. Political peace needs peace of hearts so that people can come together in the confidence that life always overcomes all forms of death.”

“We have to accept that this is man-made, it is not God-given, it is not even in nature,” he said. That means “we have the power to undo this, we can change the logic.”

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