Saturday 16 February 2019

Pope condemns violence in God’s name

He spoke during the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula.

Pope Francis delivers his speech (Andrew Medichini/AP)
Pope Francis delivers his speech (Andrew Medichini/AP)

By Nicole Winfield and Jon Gambrell, Associated Press

Pope Francis has urged religious leaders to work together to reject war as he opened the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula by denouncing 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.

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Pope Francis attends an Inter-religious meeting at the Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi (Andrew Medichini/AP)

“God is with those who seek peace,” he added.

Francis’ 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 now 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.

It featured horse-mounted guards escorting the pontiff’s motorcade through the palace gardens while the flyover trailed the yellow and white smoke of the Vatican flag.

Francis’ speech to the gathering of faith leaders was the highlight of his 40-hour visit to Abu Dhabi.

His trip culminates on Tuesday with the first papal Mass on the Arabian Peninsula, a gathering expected to draw some 135,000 faithful in a never-before-seen display of public Christian worship here.

Press Association

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