elbaradei (Photo: ElBaradei addresses IAEA board of governors, 27 Nov 2009/Herwig Prammer)

Mohamed ElBaradei, a Muslim from Egypt, has finished his 12-year term as director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) quoting one of Christianity’s most popular prayers. In a short meeting at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on Friday, the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize laureate said that “the moment of departure is an opportunity to reflect upon a journey of joy, challenges, pleasure and fulfilment.” At the end of his career at the IAEA, which began in 1984 as a legal adviser, the world was “finally returning to its senses. People are speaking of a world free of nuclear weapons, of one human family and of a world that lifts people out of poverty.”

He ended his final remarks to the Board of Governors by reading out a short version of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is error let me sow truth
Where there is discord let me sow unity
Where there is despair let me sow hope
For it is in giving that we receive.

The Italian saint has clearly been on ElBaradei’s mind in his final days as head of the IAEA. On Nov. 17, he visited Assisi, birthplace and burial place of St. Francis, and called him “a man whose life of self-sacrifice and dedication to serving the poor remains a powerful inspiration for people of all faiths eight centuries after his death” .

Three days later, delivering the 2009 Willy Brandt lecture at Berlin’s Humboldt University, he ended his address by saying: “This week, I was invited to speak at the Sacred Convent of St. Francis of Assisi. I was absolutely gripped by one of St. Francis´s prayers, in which he says: ‘Lord, make me a channel of your peace.’ I pray that every one of us will be a channel for peace.”