Pope Francis celebrates historic mass in UAE

Pope Francis celebrates historic mass in UAE

In a statement Saturday, Al-Azhar described the upcoming meeting as "historic" and praised the "deeply fraternal relationship" between its imam and the pope, which it said even includes birthday greetings.

On Monday, the Holy Father was joined by the Grand Imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar mosque, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, at a Human Fraternity meeting aimed at combating global terrorism and promoting inter-faith harmony.

Pope Francis meanwhile is well known as an advocate for tolerance and the laying aside of differences and for his determined call for the pursuit of peace and fraternity among humanity, and the award recognises this continued commitment and approach.

Pope Francis smiles upon his arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport in the UAE capital February 3, 2019.

"I appeal to the interested parties and to the worldwide community to urgently encourage compliance with the agreements reached, to ensure the distribution of food and to work for the good of the population".

"The population is exhausted by the lengthy conflict and a great many children are suffering from hunger, but can not access food depots", he added.

In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI incited outrage in the Muslim world by quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor's criticism of Islam: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached", Benedict said.

It comes after the Pope arrived for his historic three-day trip to the Arabian Peninsula on Sunday, at the invitation of Abu Dhabi's crown prince.

Out of the roughly nine million people living in the UAE, the Catholic Church estimates as many as one million are Catholic.


Catholics believe the communion host and wine become the body and blood of Christ when consecrated by a priest during the Mass. Catholics believe the Pope is the vicar of Christ on Earth, so participating in a papal mass is particularly special.

Standing in the back of a white Mercedes convertible with the hood down, the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula delivered blessings to those fortunate enough to secure tickets to the unprecedented open-air service.

Rights groups, which have slammed the UAE over its intolerance of dissent, have also urged the pope to raise the issue of Ahmed Mansoor, an Emirati activist serving a 10-year prison term.

For Indian Doris D'Souza, who lives in Goa, Pope Francis's trip to the UAE was not to be missed.

Yesterday also saw Pope Francis partake in an interfaith meeting at the Founder's Memorial, the primary reason for his visit.

This unique flock has welcomed Pope Francis' presence with vast gratitude and emotion.

Sheikh Tayeb, who addressed the pope as "my dear brother", said millions of Muslims had paid the price for the actions of "a handful of criminals" following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He also encouraged them to seek assistance among local religious leaders. A almost four-year war with the Iran-aligned Houthi group has pushed Yemen to the brink of starvation.

Bahrain and Qatar are home to one Catholic church each while Oman, Kuwait and Yemen each have four while Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia bans all non-Muslim places of worship.

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