The UAE is set to host the first mass held by Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi next month, which will be attended by some 120,000 people, including some of the region’s Muslim leaders.
The mass will take place on February 5 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
“The distribution of invitation cards to attend the mass will take place across churches in the Arabian peninsula,” The National quoted Paul Hinder, the Catholic bishop of the southern Arabian Peninsula, as saying.
The newspaper added, although 120,000 people will attend the mass, many others will not be able to attend because of the difficulty of obtaining invitation cards as they are limited, Hinder said, but he stressed that those unable to attend will be able to see the mass through live broadcasts to be sent to all churches .
Pope Francis’s visit to the UAE is part of a campaign to promote tolerance among people of different faiths, under the banner of “human brotherhood.”
Earlier, the Vatican announced that the Pope’s visit comes at the invitation of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Catholic Church in the UAE.
The Vatican said the theme of the visit is “make me a channel of your peace,” words taken from the prayer of St. Francis Assisi, whom the Pope chose as his namesake when he was elected as the head of the Catholic Church.
The Pope’s visit logo will be a dove shaped in the colors of the Emirates and the Vatican with an olive branch, in reference to the Pope’s visit to the UAE as a messenger of peace.
Before visiting the UAE directly, Pope Francis will visit Panama, where he will participate in the International Youth Days from 22 to 28 January.
After his visit to the UAE, the pope will visit Morocco from March 30 to March 31.
Pope Francis is an enthusiastic supporter of dialogue not only with other Christian denominations, but also with other religions, and has already visited Egypt in 2017.