Pope Francis Visits UAE And Held Historic Mass In The Muslim Country
Pope Francis flew to the United Arab Emirates to promote dialogue between different cultures and show his support to the Catholics living in the Muslim dominated country. The Supreme Pontiff stayed in UAE from Feb. 3 to Feb. 5 and during this time, he met with the Muslim Council of Elders as well for a momentous dialogue.
The Pope also held a mass in Abu Dhabi stadium and this is a historic event because this is the first public mass that was celebrated very openly for the Catholics. At least 170,000 people attended the pontifical mass on Feb. 5, Channel News Asia reported.
This is the first time that a Pope visited UAE and he thanked the officials and leaders for making his visit possible. It was learned that His Holiness was invited by UAE as part of the country's 2019 "Year of Tolerance."
At any rate, in his teaching during the mass, the Pontiff calls for peace and protection of human rights. He also told mass attendees to seek communion with Christ and put the Savior above everything else.
"Let us together ask here today for the grace of rediscovering the attraction of following Jesus, of imitating him, of not seeking anyone else but him and his humble love," Pope Francis said in his homily. "For here is the meaning of our life: in communion with him and in our love for others."
After the mass, the Gulf News reported that Pope Francis was seen off by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince and UAE's Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Other dignitaries, ministers, and UAE shaikhs were also present to send off the Pontiff.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi lauded the unveiling of the Human Fraternity Declaration that was signed by Pope Francis and His Eminence Dr. Ahmad Al Tayyeb, the current Grand Imam of al-Azhar. The declaration seeks to foster better human relations, build bridges of love, to promote friendship and co-existence among societies.
Likewise, Shaikh Mohammed, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE commended the Pope for his key role in initiating and laying the foundations for world peace, solidarity, brotherhood, tolerance, and humanitarian dialogue. The VP also thanked Pope Francis for his zealous participation in the events and undertakings as part of the Global Conference of Human Fraternity.
Finally, Pope Francis also sent across a warm parting message to President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. "As I depart from the United Arab Emirates, I renew my deep appreciation to Your Highness, the government and the people of the UAE for your warm welcome and generous hospitality," the Pope said. "I assure you of my prayers and invoke upon all of you abundant divine blessings."