On December 6, 2018, a Vatican news statement announced Pope Francis’s upcoming trip next year to the United Arab Emirates. The February 3-5 visit will mark the first time any Pope has visited the oil-rich nation located on the Persian Gulf. Emirates’ population is 10 million people and Islam is the majority religion.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the local Catholic Church both extended an invitation to the Pontiff for the visit. While in the Arabian Peninsula, Francis will also participate in the International Interfaith Meeting on Human Fraternity, which will be held in Abu Dhabi.
Bishop Paul Hinder, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, issued a statement expressing his hope that the Pope’s visit “will be a moment of deepening our faith and our adherence to the Bishop of Rome.” A detailed agenda for the February trip has not been issued by the Holy See, but Bishop Hinder confirmed that the Pontiff will celebrate a public Mass in Abu Dhabi on February 5, 2019.
Greg Burke, Vatican News Director, also released the logo and theme for the Pope’s February journey which is “Make me a channel of your peace,” based on the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. Burke commented that the theme was a fitting description of the purpose for the Pope’s visit which will focus on “how all people of goodwill can work for peace.”
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