It was 5 years ago, on 4 February 2019, that Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi signed a joint declaration on fraternity, emphasising peace, freedom of belief, dialogue and coexistence.
On 4 February 2024, the inter-religious collective of Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine and Ile-Saint-Denis, two municipalities bordering Paris, wanted to honour this anniversary with a civic and spiritual march: more than 400 people responded to the call.
During the walk, we discovered different places – the Mosque, the Synagogue, the Church of old Saint-Ouen… – while we were invited to discuss subjects such as: – getting to know each other, – why did we come? – civic and spiritual life? After crossing the Saint-Ouen bridge over the Seine, we continued our discoveries in the accessible area of the Olympic village, where we had a chat with the mayors of the two towns, who reminded us that these paths are paths for peace. Our walk ended at the Church of Saint Pierre de l’Ile Saint Denis with a time of prayer together, a glass of friendship and, once again, exchanges…
What particularly touched me was the inter-generational, inter-cultural and inter-religious aspect, due to the diverse origins of the participants. Here are a few of the expressions I heard: “Believers are people on the move… we need to build bridges rather than walls”. “We need to walk with inner joy” “Remain merciful servants” “Gatherings like this give us renewed courage” “The important thing is respect for tolerance”.
And I’ll end by transcribing a paragraph from the document we were given: “Faith leads believers to see in others a brother to be supported and loved. From Faith in God who created the universe, creatures and all human beings – equal through His Mercy, the believer is called to express this human brotherhood, by safeguarding creation and the whole universe and by supporting each person, especially those most in need and the poorest.”
Sister Juliette Houdemond, Daughter of the Holy Spirit.
Published on 12 February 2024