Catholics gather at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, sing Hymns with joy-filled hearts

by Nour Salman

ABU DHABI, 5th February, 2019 (WAM) — On the third and final day of the Papal Visit, the sun shines over a 170,000 strong crowd (50,000 of which gathered inside the stadium and 120,000 outside) where the atmosphere is filled with excitement, joy, and belief in the humanity of the world.

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 worshipers gathered at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, some lining up since 1:00 am to enter, preparing to see the Pontiff deliver the Holy Mass on UAE grounds.

Religious and cultural diversity is an integral part of the UAE’s civilisation and heritage, with archaeological excavations unearthing churches dating back to the 7th century AD.

The first Catholic church was established in 1965, six years before the formation of the UAE. Today, nearly one million Catholics reside here.

On this whirlwind trip, Pope Francis came, along with his fellow religious leader His Eminence Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, to send a message of peace, tolerance, and fraternity, not only for the region, but globally.

The Pope’s visit, following an invitation by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will draw attention to the global role of the UAE as an international leader in promoting religious coexistence.

In order to safeguard peace there is a need to enter together, as one family, into an ark which can sail the stormy seas of the world, “the ark of fraternity”, Pope Francis said in a speech delivered at the Founder’s Memorial.

The UAE and the Vatican have enjoyed diplomatic ties since 2007.

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