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GENERAL AUDIENCE: On Papal Visit to United Arab Emirates (Full Text)

For 1st Ever Visit by a Pope to the Arabian Peninsula, ZENIT Was There

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The Feb. 6, 2019, General Audience was held at 9:30 in Paul VI Hall, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
In his address in Italian, the Pope focused his meditation on his Apostolic Journey to the United Arab Emirates, which just ended, which marked the first time a Pope has ever stepped foot on the Arabian Peninsula. Zenit’s Senior Vatican Correspondent Deborah Castellano Lubov accompanied Pope Francis on the papal flight.
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father addressed special greetings to groups of faithful present. Then he invited to pray for the migrants from Haiti, victims of the shipwreck that happened near the Bahamas.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In the past days, I undertook a brief Apostolic Journey to the United Arab Emirates. A brief journey but very important that — following the meeting of 2017 to Al-Azhar, in Egypt –, has written a new page in the history of the dialogue between Christianity and Islam, and in the commitment to promote peace in the world on the basis of human fraternity.
For the first time a Pope went to the Arabian Peninsula. And Providence willed that it be a Pope named Francis, 800 years after Saint Francis of Assisi’s visit to Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. I thought often of Saint Francis during this Journey: he helped me to have the Gospel <and> the love of Jesus Christ in my heart, while living the various moments of the visit. The Gospel of Christ was in my heart, the prayer to the Father for all His children, especially for the poorest, for the victims of injustice, of wars, of poverty . . . ; prayer so that the dialogue between Christianity and Islam is a decisive factor for peace in today’s world.
I thank the Crown Prince, the President, the Vice-President and all the Authorities of the United Arab Emirates, who received me with great courtesy. That country has grown very much in the last decades. It has become a crossroads between the East and West, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious  “oasis,” and, therefore, an appropriate place to promote the culture of encounter. I express my heartfelt gratitude to Bishop Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of South Arabia, who prepared and organized the event for the Catholic community, and my “thank you” is extended affectionately to the priests, to the Religious and to the laymen who animate the Christian presence in that land.
I had the opportunity to greet the first priest — nonagenarian — who went there to found so many communities. He is in a wheelchair, blind but his smile does not leave his lips, the smile of having served the Lord and of having done so much good. I also greeted another nonagenarian priest — but this one walked and continues to work. Bravo! — And so many priests who are there at the service of the Christian community of the Latin rite, of the Syro-Malabar rite, Syro- Malankar <rite>, of the Maronite rite who come from Lebanon, from India, from the Philippines and from other countries.
In addition to the addresses, a further step was taken at Abu Dhabi: the Great Imam of Al-Azhar and I signed the Document on Human Fraternity, in which together we affirm the common vocation of all men and women to be brothers, in as much as sons and daughters of God; we condemn every form of violence, especially that clothed with religious motivations, and we commit ourselves to spread genuine values and peace in the world. This Document will be studied in the schools and universities of several countries. However, I also recommend that you read it, know it, because it gives such a spur to go on in the dialogue on human fraternity.
At a time like ours, in which the temptation is strong to see a clash break out between the Christian and the Islamic civilizations, and also to consider religions as sources of conflict, we wished to give a further clear and determined sign that, instead, it’s possible to meet with one another, it’s possible to respect one another and dialogue and that, although in the diversity of the cultures and the traditions, the Christian and Islamic worlds appreciate and defend common values: life, the family, the religious sense, honour for the elderly, the education of young people and still others.
Just over one million Christians live in the United Arab Emirates: workers natives of various countries of Asia. Yesterday morning I met a representation of the Catholic community in Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi — a very simple church — and then, after this meeting, I celebrated <Mass> for all — there were so many! – They say that between those that were inside the Stadium, which has a capacity for 40,000, and those that were in front of screens outside the Stadium, <the number> reached 150,000! I celebrated the Eucharist in the city’s Stadium, proclaiming the Gospel of the Beatitudes. In the Mass, concelebrated with the Patriarchs, Major Archbishops and Bishops present, we prayed particularly for peace and justice, with a special intention for the Middle East and Yemen.
Dear brothers and sisters, this Journey belongs to God’s “surprises.” Therefore, we praise  Him and His Providence, and we pray so that the seeds scattered will bear fruits according to His Holy Will.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
In Italian
A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful.
I’m happy to receive the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Basilicata, accompanied by the Metropolitan, Monsignor Salvatore Ligorio, and the Chinese Priests and Religious in Rome for an updating course.
I greet the group of the Italian Scientific Journalists Union, and the school Institutes, in particular, Saint John the Baptist School of Rome and the class of students of the “Pier Paolo Pasolini” Scientific Lyceum of Potenza.
I greet the delegation of the Pharmaceutical Bank Foundation, which on Saturday, February 9, will collect drugs in Italian pharmacies for economically disadvantaged people.
A special thought goes to young people, the sick, the newlyweds and the elderly. I hope that for all the visit to the Eternal City will stimulate to reflect further on the Word of God, to be able to proclaim that Jesus is our Saviour and our true peace.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
The Holy Father’s Appeal
Last Saturday, close to the archipelago of the Bahamas, a barge sank with dozens of migrants from Haiti on board, seeking hope and a peaceful future. My affectionate thought goes to the families tried by grief, as well as to the Haitian people affected by this new tragedy. I invite you to join my prayer for those who died tragically and for the wounded.
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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