Pope Lauds UAE for Openness to Migrants

Receives Country’s 1st Ambassador to Holy See

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today received the first ambassador from the United Arab Emirates to the Holy See, commending her nation for its openness to immigrants.

The Emirates has in fact the highest net migration rate in the world (the United States comes in 25th and the United Kingdom at 40th).

“The openness of the United Arab Emirates toward those foreign workers requires constant efforts to strengthen the conditions necessary for peaceful coexistence and social progress, and is to be commended,” the Pope told the ambassador in his English-language address.

Hissa Abdulla Ahmed Al-Otaiba, who also serves as the UAE’s ambassador to Spain, is taking up her post in the Holy See after diplomatic relations were established between the two countries in 2007.

Christians make up some 4% of the 4.8 million people in the nation, which is mostly (96%) Muslim. Many of those Christians are Catholics — foreign workers who’ve emigrated to the country.

The Pope said these workers “enrich the state not only by their labor but by their very presence, which is an opportunity for a fruitful and positive encounter between the world’s great religions, cultures and peoples.”

He noted “with satisfaction” how public authorities have donated land for several Catholic churches.

“It is the Holy See’s earnest wish that this cooperation may continue and indeed flourish, according to the growing pastoral necessities of the Catholic population living there,” the Pontiff said. “Freedom of worship contributes significantly to the common good and brings social harmony to all those societies where it is practiced.”

Human dignity

Benedict XVI emphasized in his address how it is “love of God and respect for the dignity of one’s neighbor” that motivates Holy See diplomacy and shapes the Church’s international work.

The Church’s action, he affirmed, “strives for the authentic progress of all, without regard for race, color or creed.”

The Pope added that “the Holy See and the Catholic Church take care to highlight the dignity of man in order to maintain a clear and authentic vision of humanity on the international stage and in order to muster new energy in the service of what is best for the development of peoples and nations.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-29321?l=english

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