Thousands of Filipino Catholics attend Papal Mass in Abu Dhabi

Thousands of Filipino Catholics attend Papal Mass in Abu Dhabi

Thousands of Filipino Catholics attend Papal Mass in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi allows Christians to practice their faith discreetly, unlike neighbouring Saudi Arabia which bans all non-Muslim places of worship.

In spite of attempts by extremists on both sides to drive us apart, people from various religious backgrounds in Europe and the Middle East manage to look beyond the rhetoric and focus on what unites them.

The pope's highly publicised 48-hour visit to the United Arab Emirates will also include an open-air mass on Tuesday for 135,000 of the Muslim country's million Catholic residents, set to be the largest public gathering in the country's history.

"It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about the future", Francis said. "But the Lord is faithful and does not abandon his people", he added.

Today, for the first time in the UAE, and the Arabian Peninsula, the Head of the Catholic Church will deliver a Homily, bringing together the Catholic community in the country for moments of peace and reflection.

The UAE is an Islamic country, with migrants, mainly from Asia, making up the majority of the population.

Migrants from Asian countries make up about 65 percent of the population.

At the conclusion of Mass, Pope Francis was addressed by Bishop Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of Southern Arabia, who thanked him for his visit.

Before Mass, the leader of the world's Catholics circled the stadium in his popemobile, waving to the crowd as it responded it cheers and chants of support.

Another 120,000 gathered outside, watching via video link on large screens.

Vaidyanathan, who converted from Hinduism to Catholicism while living in Dubai, said the Emirates' religious tolerance is commendable given the trends of the region.

Welcoming the pope were Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the UAE's vice president and prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

A choir sang hymns as the pope, joined by priests of different nationalities, began the service, broadcast live on Emirati television.

A worshipper carries the Palestinian flag during mass, led by Pope Francis, for an estimated 170,000 Catholics at the Zayed Sports City Stadium on February 5, 2019.

The pope is in the UAE as part of Abu Dhabi's so-called Year of Tolerance.

The document urged tolerance, declaring they "call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of global policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing".

The pope also spoke out about conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya.

The United Arab Emirates is deeply involved in the Saudi-led war in Yemen and faces widespread worldwide criticism for airstrikes killing civilians and the creation of the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile Dr. Ahmed At-Tayyeb, who is one of the worlds foremost Muslim leaders, called on Muslims to protect Christian communities in the Middle East and for Muslims in the West to integrate into their communities.

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