Pope Fran­cis to visit UAE in Fe­bru­ary

DE­LIGHTED TO WEL­COME SYM­BOL OF PEACE AND TOL­ER­ANCE — MO­HAM­MAD BIN ZAYED

Gulf News - - Front Page - BY SAMIR SALAMA As­so­ciate Edi­tor

We wel­come the news of Pope Fran­cis’ visit to the United Arab Emi­rates next Fe­bru­ary — a visit that will strengthen our ties and un­der­stand­ing of each other...’’

Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Rashid |

Pope Fran­cis will visit the UAE in Fe­bru­ary to at­tend the In­ter­na­tional In­ter­faith Meet­ing on ‘Hu­man Fra­ter­nity’, it has been an­nounced in Abu Dhabi and the Vat­i­can yes­ter­day.

The his­toric visit — the first to a GCC coun­try — is at the in­vi­ta­tion of His High­ness Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the UAE Armed Forces, and will take place from Fe­bru­ary 3 to 5.

His High­ness Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, Vice-Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, wel­comed the visit in a tweet: “We wel­come the news of Pope Fran­cis’ visit to the United Arab Emi­rates next Fe­bru­ary — a visit that will strengthen our ties and un­der­stand­ing of each other, en­hance in­ter­faith di­a­logue and help us to work to­gether to main­tain and build peace among the na­tions of the world.”

In a tweet, Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Zayed said: “The UAE is de­lighted to wel­come His Ho­li­ness Pope Fran­cis on the up­com­ing visit to the UAE. He is a sym­bol of peace, tol­er­ance and the pro­mo­tion of brother­hood. We look for­ward to a his­toric visit through which we will seek di­a­logue on the peace­ful co­ex­is­tence among peo­ples.”

More than a mil­lion Ro­man Catholics and other Chris­tian ex­pats liv­ing in the UAE are ex­cited about Pope Fran­cis’ first visit to the UAE in Fe­bru­ary.

The his­toric visit — the first to a Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC) coun­try — is at the in­vi­ta­tion of His High­ness Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the UAE Armed Forces, and will take place from Fe­bru­ary 3 to 5.

Pope Fran­cis will be in the UAE to at­tend an In­ter­na­tional In­ter­faith Meet­ing on Hu­man Fra­ter­nity, it was an­nounced in Abu Dhabi and the Vat­i­can yes­ter­day.

The UAE es­tab­lished diplo­matic ties with the Vat­i­can in 2007 and is home to over 40 churches — sub­stan­tially more cen­tres of wor­ship than all the other GCC coun­tries com­bined.

Shaikh Ab­dul­lah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs and In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion, tweeted: “We have the hon­our to wel­come His Ho­li­ness Pope Fran­cis, Pope of Peace, Love, and Knight of the Hu­man Brother­hood on the land of love and tol­er­ance of the UAE.”

Peace­ful co­ex­is­tence

It is es­ti­mated that there are over one mil­lion Ro­man Catholics and other Chris­tians in the UAE, most of them guest work­ers from other coun­tries. The ma­jor­ity of these Chris­tians are Catholics, and there are seven Catholic churches in the coun­try.

The Pope’s visit, Shaikh Ab­dul­lah said, is in ac­cor­dance with the UAE’s pol­icy and ef­forts, un­der the lead­er­ship of Pres­i­dent His High­ness Shaikh Khal­ifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to es­tab­lish and sup­port strong foun­da­tions of brother­hood and peace­ful co­ex­is­tence, both re­gion­ally and glob­ally. “Pope Fran­cis’ ac­cep­tance of the UAE in­vi­ta­tion strength­ens these ef­forts and will fur­ther pro­mote in­ter­faith di­a­logue,” he added.

Rev­erend Canon An­drew Thomp­son of St An­drew’s Angli­can church in Abu Dhabi told Gulf News the Pope’s visit will be a his­tor­i­cal event.

“It is both a tribute to the rul­ing fam­ily, and their long­stand­ing com­mit­ment to fos­ter­ing a so­ci­ety of co­ex­is­tence and ac­cep­tance — and to the flour­ish­ing and faith­ful Ro­man Catholic com­mu­nity who have been part of the UAE’s story,” he said.

Greg Burke, Di­rec­tor of the press of­fice of the Holy See, said, “The theme of the visit is ‘Make Me a Chan­nel of Your Peace’ — and that’s the Pope’s in­ten­tion in go­ing to the United Arab Emi­rates.”

AFP

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Reuters

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