In Pictures: The Pope’s visit to Abu Dhabi
Pope Francis completed his visit to the UAE last night, with an open-air Mass for almost 200,000 people. Then he flew promptly back to Rome.
It marked the end of the first-ever visit by a sitting pontiff to the Gulf region. His visit was highly-lauded as a triumph of interreligious dialogue (especially given the tensions across the world).
His visit comes as the UAE celebrates a year of tolerance, further marked by Pope Francis’ signing of the Human Fraternity document – an important moment in Christian-Muslim relations. The ceremony was held at the Founder’s Memorial – which is dedicated to founding President Sheikh Zayed – and saw the Pontiff sit down with Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Islam’s most prestigious seat of learning.
The historic signing of this declaration of the fraternity was watched by a global audience of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other faiths.
Following the signing of the document, Pope Francis urged the world to reject ‘war’ of all kinds. He called on the world’s great religious to reject armed conflict, and said the world would either build the future together, “or there will be no future”.
Speaking at the Founders Memorial event, the Pope said, “Let us return it to its miserable crudeness. Its fateful consequences are before our eyes. I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya.”
“The time has come for religions to more actively exert themselves, with courage and audacity and without presence, to help the human family deepen the capacity for reconciliation, the vision of hope and the concrete paths of peace.
Pope Francis also led a historic Papal Mass on his trip – the first of its kind in the Gulf – which was broadcast across the Arab world.
Certainly, one highlight was the choir, which sang in multiple languages. Assembled from 120-singers from churches across the Emirates especially for the event, the multinational choir sang together for the first time during the Mass.
The Pope also visited Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. During the visit – which was also broadcast across the Arab world – he met the Muslim Council of Elders.
In celebration of Pope Francis’ Visit to Abu Dhabi, two more places of worship are to be built in Abu Dhabi, in celebration of inter-faith relations. They will be called the Church of Saint Francis and the Mosque of Grand Imam Ahmad Al Tayeb.