March 1, 2023

The Abrahamic Family House: A New Space for Dialogue

Georgetown University Vice President for Global Engagement Dr. Thomas Banchoff attended the opening of the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi on February 16.

The Abrahamic House complex (Wikimedia user Boubloub)
The Abrahamic House complex (Wikimedia user Boubloub)

A multibuilding complex that includes a mosque, church, and synagogue, the Abrahamic Family House is designed to carry forward the legacy of Pope Francis’ historic trip to the United Arab Emirates in February 2019. During that visit Francis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb signed a major interfaith declaration, the Document on Human Fraternity.

To build on this legacy, the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University, the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, and the UAE-based Muslim Council of Elders are inaugurating the Human Fraternity Dialogues in March 2023. The dialogues will convene university students around the world on Zoom to discuss the Document on Human Fraternity and build solidarity across religious and cultural lines. Participants will have the opportunity to apply for a fellows program to bring select students to the Abrahamic Family House in February 2024, the fifth anniversary of the Document on Human Fraternity, to deepen their dialogue. Banchoff, who also serves as director of the Berkley Center, welcomed the opportunity for expanded dialogue.

“As a Catholic and Jesuit university committed to interfaith understanding, Georgetown is delighted to have this opportunity to enrich student-to-student dialogue.”

The day following its opening, the Abrahamic Family House hosted its first interfaith conference. Participants included Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Vatican Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, and Professor Mohammed Al Mahrasawi, former president of Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

The Abrahamic Family House is funded by the UAE government, which hosted Francis’ 2019 visit – the first of any pope to the Gulf. British-Ghanaian architect Sir David Adjaye, well-known for the National Museum for African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, designed the complex.