Saturday 24 August 2019

Pope urges faith leaders to reject war in UAE visit

Historic: The first papal Mass on the Arabian Peninsula will be held today. Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images
Historic: The first papal Mass on the Arabian Peninsula will be held today. Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

Nicole Winfield

Pope Francis urged religious leaders yesterday to work together to reject the "miserable crudeness" of war as he opened the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, with a strong denunciation of violence committed in God's name.

In a keynote speech to an interfaith gathering in the United Arab Emirates, Francis warned that the future of humanity was at stake unless religions come together to resist the "logic of armed power...the arming of borders, the raising of walls".

"There is no alternative: we will either build the future together or there will not be a future," Francis told Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince and hundreds of imams, muftis, ministers, rabbis and swamis gathered in the Emirati capital at a time when the UAE-backed Saudi war in Yemen has driven the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of famine.

"God is with those who seek peace," Francis added.

Francis's speech, delivered at the Emirates' Founders' Memorial, capped a historic day that began when he arrived at the presidential palace for a welcome ceremony in a tiny Kia hatchback - only to be greeted by an artillery salute and military flyover by a country at war.

Even for a nation known for excess, the Emiratis' red- carpet welcome was remarkable, especially for a pope who prides himself on simplicity.

Irish Independent

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