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October 7, 2021

Who Is My Neighbor?

Washington, Afghanistan, Haiti

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More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” and responded with the memorable parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). Pope Francis made Jesus’ response the centerpiece of his powerful encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. This letter to all the world is a global and personal call to encounter, friendship, and solidarity in our own lives, communities, and world. 

Pope Francis asked the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to bring together young people to reflect on this message and to explore how young people of faith can “rebuild our wounded world” and help those “lying wounded along the roadside…lifting up and rehabilitating the fallen for the sake of the common good” (Fratelli Tutti 67).

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University are responding to the Holy Father’s request with Pope Francis, Young People, and Solidarity: Dialogues on Fratelli Tutti, three unique gatherings on the call of Fratelli Tutti to young people in our wounded Church and broken world on October 7, November 4, and December 2.

The first gathering on Thursday, October 7 focused on the haunting and timely question of “Who is my neighbor?” in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic, humanitarian crises in Haiti and Afghanistan, and a racial reckoning here in the nation’s capital and across the United States.

This unique virtual gathering of young people began with a welcome from Cardinal Wilton Gregory, and then moved to a conversation with a young Latino who works at Catholic Charities and a Muslim woman working on issues of inclusion and democracy on the message of Pope Francis and challenges of Fratelli Tutti for young people across the boundaries of faith, background, and politics. Then the conversation on “Who is my neighbor?” continued with a recently arrived Afghan refugee, a Haitian leader with Catholic Relief Services, and a principal at a Catholic elementary school in Washington, DC.

Anna Gordon, project manager of the Initiative at Georgetown, moderated the conversation.

Resources

View a list of articles and other resources for this dialogue.

This dialogue was an extension of the Theology on Tap programs of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and the Salt and Light and Latino Leader Gatherings of the Initiative. The Archdiocese and Initiative are grateful to Scholas Occurrentes for their partnership with this gathering.

Photo by Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori via Getty Images

Participants

Muzhgan Azizy

Muzhgan Azizy

Muzhgan Azizy is a refugee from Afghanistan who recently came to the United States. She has worked for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture and is a former professor of English and literature at Herat University.

Juan Aznaran

Juan Aznaran

Juan Aznaran is the partnerships manager for the Newcomer Network of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Washington and is also a former regional coordinator of youth ministry for the Archdiocese.

Omayma El Ella

Omayma El Ella

Omayma El Ella is the project associate for the Just and Inclusive Society Project at Democracy Fund. She previously led Muslim leadership development and public engagement at the Aziz Foundation.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory

Cardinal Wilton Gregory

Cardinal Wilton Gregory is the Archbishop of Washington, a member of the Vatican Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life, and the former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Reynold Hyppolite

Reynold Hyppolite

Reynold Hyppolite is the head of youth programming for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Haiti and has worked for 10 years at CRS engaging local government, local leaders, and other community stakeholders.

Gerald Smith, Jr.

Gerald Smith, Jr.

Gerald Smith, Jr. is the principal at St. Thomas More Catholic Academy in Washington, DC, where he previously taught 4th-8th grade science. He formerly taught at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland.