In an historic visit to the United Arab Emirates, Pope Francis is scheduled to celebrate the first ever papal mass on the Arabian Peninsula.
Last week, the Holy See announced that Pope Francis will make a three-day historic visit to the United Arab Emirates from February 3rd to the 5th in 2019. The visit comes from an acceptance of an invitation by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to participate in an interfaith meeting about “Human Fraternity,” and an invitation by the Catholic Church in the U.A.E.
Pope Francis is set to celebrate Mass in the Zayed Sports City Stadium on the last day of his trip. In response to news that the U.A.E. government would be allowing for the first time ever Catholic Mass to be celebrated in public, Bishop Paul Hinder of the Arabian Vicariate of Southern Arabia (UAE, Oman, and Yemen) gave a statement:
“The generosity of the U.A.E. government has also been extended in making it possible to celebrate a Mass on February 5 at a public venue in Abu Dhabi. These are warm and kind gestures that we appreciate and acknowledge. May the visit be an important step in the dialogue between Muslims and Christians and contribute to mutual understanding and peace-making in the Middle East.”
Pope Francis will also visit one the largest mosque in the country when he travels to Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, to hold a private interfaith meeting with members of the Muslim Council of Elders. He will also preside over another interfaith meeting the Founder’s Memorial, a national tribute dedicated to the founding father of the U.A.E., with the theme of the visit being “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace” taken from the Prayer of Peace of Francis of Assisi.
There around a million Roman Catholics living in the U.A.E, all expatriate workers, with a great deal expected to attend the Holy Father’s Mass. You can learn more about Pope Francis’ visit to the United Arab Emirates on the official website here.