The Culture of Tolerance

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Giancarlo Pani SJ

 Giancarlo Pani SJ / Issue 2003 / 25 February 2020

The issue of tolerance and intolerance has, for centuries now, been one of the most debated issues.[1] A number of important events occurred in 2019 that touch on this problem in a new way. Two in particular should be mentioned: the Year of Tolerance proclaimed by the United Arab Emirates, and the publication of the Abu Dhabi Document.

The UAE declared 2019 the Year of Tolerance and drew up a Declaration of Principles of Tolerance, based on the 1996 UN guidelines. It reads: “Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the richness and diversity of the cultures of our world, […] it is harmony in difference. […] Tolerance is a virtue that makes peace possible and helps to replace the culture of war with a culture of peace.”[2]

Pope Francis has often spoken about tolerance, especially with regard to respect for others, the marginalized, the poor and refugees. The theme was prominent in the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Life Together, signed in Abu Dhabi February 4, 2019, by Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyeb. It states: “We, who believe in God, call upon the leaders of international politics and the world economy to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.”[3]

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