These photos shows the pope at an interfaith event in Abu Dhabi, not the launch of a single world religion

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on August 23, 2019 at 14:52
  • 3 min read
  • By AFP Nigeria, Mayowa TIJANI
Facebook posts shared thousands of times claim to show pictures of Pope Francis and an imam signing a “covenant” to form a single world religion. In fact, the pictures come from the pope’s visit to Abu Dhabi in February. He did meet with one of the world’s most important Islamic leaders to celebrate the creation of a new church and mosque on a shared site, but the document signed at the event was a call for inter-religious tolerance, not an agreement to form a new world religion.

One of the posts, archived here, has been shared nearly 5,600 times since it was posted on July 8. “Soon many false charismatic and evangelical preachers will join the Pope to join with Islam and all other religions to form the one world religion,” reads part of the post. 

The top of the lengthy Facebook post, as seen in a screenshot taken on August 23, 2019
The pope is seen in the photographs accompanying the post

The same text and pictures of the pope signing a document were shared by many other Facebook accounts, some of which we have archived here, here, and here.

We ran a reverse image search on Google to trace the source of the pictures, and quickly found that they were taken on February 4, 2019, during the pope’s historic visit to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. You can find them, among other places, on the official website for the trip.  

As reported by AFP, the trip was the first by a Christian pope to the Gulf, the birthplace of Islam. It included a mass for an estimated 17,000 Catholics as well as the signing by the pope and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's prestigious seat of learning, of a document on "human fraternity for world peace".

The first of the photographs shows the pope and al-Tayeb signing the foundation stone for a new church and mosque to be built alongside each other in Abu Dhabi -- you can read more here in UAE newspaper The National.

The second shows them signing the Human Fraternity document, which can be found in full here. While it aims to foster peace and tolerance between the world’s major world religions, it does not, contrary to the Facebook posts, include any kind of agreement on founding a single world faith.

“We call upon intellectuals, philosophers, religious fig res, artists, media professionals and men and women of culture in every part of the world, to rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere,” the document reads.

Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, also signed the foundation stone of the new church and mosque as part of the inter-faith initative -- you can see one of the photographs in his tweet below.

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