Pope Francis has told the Catholic faithful in the United Arab Emirates that they need not build great works to be faithful, preaching a message of meekness to a largely poor flock in a country that is home to the world’s biggest skyscraper and is known for its opulence and excess.
Francis celebrated Mass on Tuesday before a crowd that was estimated at about 135,000, on the final day of his historic visit to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam.
He focused his homily on the Biblical beatitudes, the teachings of Jesus that held up the poor and the meek as blessed. He said that living the Beatitudes doesn’t require “great gestures” or “superhuman actions.”
He said Jesus “did not ask us to build great works or draw attention to ourselves with extraordinary gestures. He asked us to produce just one work of art, possible for everyone: our own life.”
Tens of thousands of Christians have flocked to a large stadium in Abu Dhabi with feelings of excitement and elation as Pope Francis celebrates Mass, the first-ever papal mass in the Arabian Peninsula.
Krystal Recana, a 31-year-old Filipina nurse was among the crowd on Tuesday at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, which is able to hold around 135,000 people.
She says she came to see the pope “because I know seeing the pope alone will already create maybe an inside miracle in all of us.
Another Filipina, Khristen Gracia, says the recent attack by suspected Islamic militants on a Christian church that killed 23 worshippers in the Philippines stunned her, but did not change her perception of Muslims, who she works closely with as a nurse in Abu Dhabi.
Gracia says: “They allow us to pray here. They allow us to have our rosaries here, to bring our bibles here.”
Pope Francis has arrived at a stadium to celebrate the first-ever papal Mass in the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam.
The pontiff arrived at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, in his open-top popemobile, waving to the gathered tens of thousands.
Earlier on Tuesday, the pontiff visited and prayed with the faithful at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi.
Pope Francis has led the faithful at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in prayer before celebrating Mass in Abu Dhabi.
He hugged and kissed children, laying his hands on several in wheelchairs.
In brief remarks in Italian, he thanked the faithful for meeting with him.
Pope Francis said: “Thank you very much for coming here and welcoming me. It’s a great joy for me to visit the small churches that are spread all over the place.”
Pope Francis has arrived at a Roman Catholic church in Abu Dhabi for a visit before celebrating Mass.
The pope arrived at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in the capital of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday morning and was greeted outside by a cheering youth choir wearing red-and-white robes.
He arrived in a simple Kia hatchback and waved at those waiting.
Some shouted: “Viva el Papa!” Others reached over rails to shake his hands.
Inside, the faithful filled pews and looked on at Francis.
This is the first papal trip ever to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam.
Pope Francis is turning his attention to the thriving Catholic community in the United Arab Emirates as he concludes his historic visit to the Arabian Peninsula.
A day after making a broad appeal for Christian and Muslim leaders to work together to promote peace and reject war, Francis visits a cathedral in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday and then celebrates Mass in the Zayed Sports City Stadium.
It is being billed as the largest show of public Christian worship on the peninsula.
Francis is on the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam. On Monday, he met with Emirati leaders and signed a document promoting “human fraternity” with Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni learning.