Paul VI Hall
Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Apostolic Journey to the United Arab Emirates
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
In recent days I made a short Apostolic Journey to the United Arab Emirates. A short but very important journey that, linking up to the 2017 meeting in Al-Azhar, Egypt, wrote a new page in the history of dialogue between Christianity and Islam and in the commitment to promote peace in the world on the basis of human brotherhood .
For the first time, a Pope went to the Arabian peninsula. And Providence wanted it to be a Pope by the name of Francis, 800 years after the visit of St. Francis of Assisi to the sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. I often thought of Saint Francis during this journey: he helped me to keep the Gospel, the love of Jesus Christ in my heart, while I was living the various moments of the visit; in my heart there was the Gospel of Christ, prayer to the Father for all his children, especially for the poorest, for the victims of injustices, wars, misery ...; prayer because the dialogue between Christianity and Islam is a decisive factor for peace in today's world.
I sincerely thank the Hereditary Prince, the President, the Vice President and all the Authorities of the United Arab Emirates, who welcomed me with great courtesy. That country has grown a lot in recent decades: it has become a crossroads between East and West, a multiethnic and multi-religious "oasis", and therefore a suitable place to promote the culture of encounter. I express my gratitude to Bishop Paul Hinder, Vicar Apostolic of South Arabia, who prepared and organized the event for the Catholic community, and my "thank you" extends with affection to the priests, religious and laity who animate the Christian presence in that land.
I had the opportunity to greet the first priest - ninety - who had gone there to found so many communities. He is in the wheelchair, blind, but the smile does not fall from his lips, the smile of having served the Lord and of having done so well. I also said hello to another ninety-year-old priest - but that was walking and continuing to work. Good boy! - and many priests who are there at the service of the Christian communities of the Latin rite, of the Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara rituals, of the Maronite rite that come from Lebanon, India, the Philippines and other countries.
In addition to the speeches, in Abu Dhabi one step was taken: the Great Imam of Al-Azhar and I signed the document on the Human Brotherhood, in which together we affirm the common vocation of all men and women to be brothers in As God's sons and daughters, we condemn all forms of violence, especially those with religious motivation, and we commit ourselves to spreading authentic values and peace throughout the world. This document will be studied in schools and universities in several countries. But I also recommend that you read it, know it, because it gives so much pressure to move forward in the dialogue on human brotherhood.
In an era like ours, in which the temptation to see a clash between Christian and Islamic civilizations is strong, and also to consider religions as sources of conflict, we wanted to give a further, clear and decisive sign, that instead it is possible to meet, it is possible to respect and dialogue, and that, despite the diversity of cultures and traditions, the Christian and Islamic world appreciate and protect common values: life, family, religious sense, honor for the elderly, the education of young people, and others.
About a million Christians live in the United Arab Emirates: workers from various Asian countries. Yesterday morning I met a representation of the Catholic community in St. Joseph's Cathedral in Abu Dhabi - a very simple temple - and then, after this meeting, I celebrated for everyone. They were so many! They say that among those inside the stadium, which has capacity for 40 thousand, and those who were in front of the screens outside the stadium, it was 150 thousand! I celebrated the Eucharist in the city stadium, announcing the Gospel of the Beatitudes. In the Mass, concelebrated with the Patriarchs, the Major Archbishops and the Bishops present, we prayed in a special way for peace and justice, with special intention in the Middle East and Yemen.
Dear brothers and sisters, this Journey belongs to the "surprises" of God. We therefore praise him and his providence, and pray that the scattered seeds bear fruit according to his holy will.
Greetings in Various Languages:
Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins venus de France et de divers pays francophones, en particulier les séminaristes et les professeurs du Séminaire de Nantes, ainsi que les jeunes de Marseille et de Paris. Demandons à l’Esprit Saint de nous aider à promouvoir une véritable culture de la rencontre, et, en tant qu’enfants de Dieu, à faire grandir la fraternité entre les hommes, grâce au respect, au dialogue et à la prière. Que Dieu vous bénisse!
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from England and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you!
Herzlich grüße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache. Bitten wir den Vater der Menschheit, dass er der Welt Frieden schenke und uns alle im Bewusstsein der Brüderlichkeit unter den Menschen wachsen lasse.
Saúdo cordialmente os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, em particular os fiéis de São José dos Campos, com votos de que tragais sempre no coração o amor de Jesus, como Francisco de Assis, e a oração ao Pai celeste por todos os seus filhos, especialmente por quantos não têm paz. Sobre vós e vossas famílias desça a bênção de Deus!
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en modo particular a los grupos provenientes de España y América Latina. Cuando entraba vi que había muchos andaluces, que saben hacer ruido. Agradezcamos al Señor este momento de gracia que ha sido el viaje a los Emiratos Árabes Unidos y recemos para que crezca la fraternidad entre todos los creyentes en Dios, incluso entre estos y los no creyentes, y todas las personas de buena voluntad. Muchas gracias.
بالقادمين من الشرق الأوسط. على الثرى الطيب للإمارات العربية المتحدة زرعت بذرة الأخوة الإنسانية. نسأل الله أن يجعلها تنمو، وثمر وتصبح شجرة تحتضن الجميع. ليبارك الرب جميع الأشخاص الذين جعلوا هذه الزيارة الرسولية ممكنة.
Pozdrawiam serdecznie pielgrzymów polskich. Bracia i siostry, spotkania z ludźmi różnych kontynentów, kultur i religii, podobnie jak to w Zjednoczonych Emiratach Arabskich, uświadamiają nam jak ważną sprawą dla świata jest pokój, dialog i braterstwo ludzi. Wymiarem tych aspektów życia w każdym z nas jest pokój z samym sobą, z bliźnimi, ze światem stworzonym. W duchu hasła tej minionej wizyty prośmy Boga w naszej codziennej modlitwie: „Uczyń mnie narzędziem pokoju”. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus.
Last Saturday, near the archipelago of the Bahamas, a boat has sunk with dozens of migrants coming from Haiti and looking for hope and a future of peace. My affectionate thought goes to the families suffering from the pain, as well as to the Haitian people struck by this new tragedy. I invite you to join my prayer for those who have disappeared dramatically and for the injured.
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I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking faithful.
I am pleased to welcome the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Basilicata, accompanied by the Metropolitan, Monsignor Salvatore Ligorio and the Chinese Priests and Religious in Rome for a refresher course.
I greet the group of the Union of Italian scientific journalists and educational institutions, in particular the San Giovanni Battista School of Rome - and the class of students of the "Pier Paolo Pasolini" High School of Potenza.
I greet the delegation of the Banco Farmaceutico Foundation that on Saturday 9 February, in Italian pharmacies, will collect drugs for economically disadvantaged people.
I address a special thought to the young, the sick, the newlyweds and the elderly. I wish everyone to visit the Eternal City to encourage them to deepen the Word of God in order to announce that Jesus is our Savior and our true peace.