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Pope Francis holds historic public mass in UAE


ABU DHABI: Pope Francis held a historical public mass for an estimated 170,000 Catholics at an Abu Dhabi stadium on Tuesday at the first ever papal seek advice from to the Muslim Gulf.

The pope waved at an enthusiastic crowd carrying Vatican flags and banners as he drove into Zayed Sports City Stadium, the place an altar with a large go was once arrange for the exceptional open-air service in a rustic the place worship is usually allowed simplest within church buildings.

The United Arab Emirates borders Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, however in contrast to its larger neighbour, which outlaws all non-Muslim puts of worship, Abu Dhabi allows Christians among its huge migrant personnel to practise their religion discreetly.

Francis, who has made outreach to Muslim communities a cornerstone of his papacy, is wrapping up a historical three-day seek advice from to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.



"How beautiful it is for brothers to be joined under this sky," mentioned an MC in Arabic in a while after the pope's arrival round 10am.

Inside the stadium, 50,000 Catholics with tickets to the mass cheered the pope on, with one small workforce hoisting a red posterboard which read "We the Catholics of Yemen love you!".

Another 120,000 had been gathered outside, gazing via video hyperlink on huge monitors.

A choir sang hymns as the pope, joined through clergymen of various nationalities, started the service, broadcast survive Emirati television.

The UAE invited the pope to seek advice from as a part of its 2019 "Year of Tolerance" which has its personal designated ministry.

Tolerance minister Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, greeted the crowd at the stadium sooner than the pope's arrival for mass.

Pope Francis' commute has been warmly welcomed through Filipino and Indian Catholics among the UAE's massive migrant personnel.

Asian nationals make up about 65 p.c of the population and are the most important to all sectors within the Gulf state, from building to products and services and lodges.

The son of Italian immigrants who was once raised in Argentina, Jorge Bergoglio — or Pope Francis — has paid specific consideration to migrants and refugees right through his papacy.

More than 85 per cent of the UAE population are expatriates, and about 1,000,000 Catholics are living within the nation, or about 10 per cent of the population.

Tuesday's mass got here a day after the pope referred to as for an finish to wars within the bothered Middle East, including in Yemen and Syria, at a meeting with a top sheikh and rabbi within the UAE.

All non secular leaders had a "duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word war", he told the interfaith assembly on Monday.

"I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya," he mentioned.

Yemen is within the grip of what the UN calls the sector's worst humanitarian disaster, precipitated through the intervention of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies in a civil war between the government and Shia Muslim rebels.

While the pope did not overtly talk about politics, he referred to as for "the full recognition" of the rights of other people around the Middle East, a potential reference to communities including Shiites in Saudi Arabia, refugees and migrants, stateless peoples and different minorities.


"I look forward to societies where people of different beliefs have the same right of citizenship and where only in the case of violence in any of its forms is that right removed," he mentioned.


He additionally held talks in Abu Dhabi on Monday with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb — imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's most prestigious seat of learning.


The two non secular leaders signed a document on "human fraternity for world peace and living together", described through the Vatican as an "important step forward in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims".


It referred to as for "freedom of belief", the "promotion of a culture of tolerance", the "protection of places of worship" and "full citizenship" rights for minorities.


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