Holy Father Pope Francis will be in the UAE from 3 to 5 February 2019, becoming the first ever Catholic Pontiff to visit the Arabian Peninsula.
The visit is under the invitations from the Catholic Church in the UAE and the Crown Prince, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
As quoted by Bishop Paul Hinder: “We welcome Pope Francis with open hearts and pray with Saint Francis of Assisi: ‘Make me a channel of your peace!”.
The visit is said to be an important step in the dialogue between Muslims and Christians and contribute to mutual understanding and peace-making in the region of the Middle East.
It’s the first time a Pontiff has visited the Gulf state and Pope was greeted with an artillery salute and aircraft trailing yellow and white smoke through the sky in honor of the Vatican flag.
The Pope touched down in Abu Dhabi for the 48-hour trip during which met leading Muslim clerics and held an open-air mass for some 135,000 Catholics. The UAE has declared Tuesday a holiday for invitees to the mass.
The Pontiff called on the world’s religious leaders to reject war, mentioning the conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya.
In a handwritten message in the palace’s Book of Honor, the Pope thanked his hosts for their “warm welcome” and invoked “divine blessings of peace” on the people of the UAE.
The Crown Prince, gifted the Pope the act of notary dating back to June 22, 1963, for a donation of land to build the first church in the UAE.
The Pope’s meeting with palace officials comes at a delicate political time for the UAE, which is involved in a coalition with Saudi Arabia in a war in Yemen.
Among churchgoers in the UAE, excitement at the visit of Pope Francis has been at fever-pitch, church leaders reported!