Pope Francis on a three day visit to the UAE from 3-5 February, said that war is not a solution and made a strong statement that he would travel long distances into the Muslim world despite criticism to stave off conflict between two faiths who believe in one God. Both Christianity and Islam are Abrahamic and monotheistic then why the conflict?
Pope Francis has been quoted as saying that the visit was ‘historic’. Feb 3 was a red letter day for Catholics all over the world for it was for the first time that a papal head was visiting the UAE. The host country which is celebrating the Year of Tolerance in 2019, had extended an invitation to the Pope which he accepted. The papal head attended the International Interfaith Meeting on Human Fraternity.
The 266th Catholic Pope, Pope Francis has been making special efforts to bring about Christian –Muslim amity ever since he took over as head of the Roman Catholic Church in 2016. He seeks to look with faith and hope to the future. He was pleased with the outcome of his discussions with the UAE leadership and Islamic scholars. He called for greater religious freedom which goes beyond conducting masses in church and also for greater rights for the Christian minorities in the Middle East.
On Feb 5, Tuesday morning, Pope Francis conducted the first ever papal mass at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi, where an altar with a huge cross had been specially put up for an open air service. The massive 1,70000 congregation was jubilant at this memorable mass. They were quick to appreciate and praise the UAE government which had made this possible.
The UAE borders Saudi Arabia which outlaws all non Muslim places of worship. Abu Dhabi allows its migrant workforce to practise their religion discreetly.
The cornerstone of Pope Francis’s leadership has been the outreach to the Muslims. The UAE visit was no different. His public comments in Abu Dhabi have centred on calls to end war across the Middle East and to protect citizens’ rights.
On Feb 5, the Pope returned to Vatican.