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For the first time, a Pope sets foot on the Arabian Peninsula

Pope Francis likes to be modest. In order to be the host country can not serve: The Shopping Malls are huge, as elsewhere, the skyscrapers glistening splendid,

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For the first time, a Pope sets foot on the Arabian Peninsula

Pope Francis likes to be modest. In order to be the host country can not serve: The Shopping Malls are huge, as elsewhere, the skyscrapers glistening splendid, against the mosque of St. Peter's Basilica is tiny and money is God here. However, during the visit of the Pontiff in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) it's not about Bling Bling. It is written in history: Pope Francis is the first Pontiff to visit on the Arabian Peninsula.

He was glad, "a new Chapter in the history of the relations between the religions ," the Pope said in a video message to the Islamic country. In the centre of the visit an inter-religious at the Monday Meeting by the name of "Human Fraternity". Finally, the dialogue between religions is one of Francis' Heart. The visit ends on Tuesday with a large trade fair in a sports stadium.

The Emirates are not the first Muslim country in the 82-year-old Pope travels. He was already in Egypt or Turkey. The dialogue between Christians and Muslims in many countries is not a matter of course. On the contrary, Christians are often the target of Islamist attacks and not allowed to exercise their Religion freely.

lighthouse of tolerance

However, the Emirates will apply in terms of tolerance in the Arab world as a sort of "lighthouse", unlike for example Saudi Arabia, where there is not even churches. Francis described the UAE as a "model of coexistence and human brotherhood".

For the Emirates is to visit a perfect advertising. Has just begun the "year of tolerance", which was proclaimed by the leadership. The UAE to be a place of openness and co-existence of different cultures, emphasized crown Prince Mohammed bin Said Al Nahjan, at the invitation of the Pope to Abu Dhabi.

As a sign of tolerance, the Ministry of labour for the day, the Pope proclaimed a public holiday for all employees in the private sector, want to go to the fair. From all over the neighboring region of pilgrims are expected to not miss the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Pope.

especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi many of the work migrants, particularly from Asia. They make up about 88 percent of the population of the Emirates. An estimate by the American think tank Pew Research Center estimated that about twelve percent of the almost 9.7 million people in the Emirates Christians. The Catholic Church is now of little more than a Million Catholics.

No "freedom of religion in the technical sense"

"I noticed, in the run-up to that of many Muslims to Pope Francis have sympathy," said Bishop Paul Hinder of the organization to the Church in Need. The Swiss Backdrop is the Apostolic vicar for Southern Arabia, and now the host of the Pontiff. The visit was of course the dialogue is important. "Just in the Arab world much more based on relationships than laws." Therefore, the visit could help "that the relationship of the religions to be relaxed on the Arabian Peninsula."

In an Interview with Vatican News also more critical sounds to hit Obstacles. "I would have wished that he would take a bit more time – especially for us, the Catholic community," says Hinder. He would have shown the Pope the social Situation in the country behind the glossy surface. There is, to his knowledge, "in no Islamic country, freedom of religion in the technical sense," says Bischoff. After all, there is in the Emirates, "education and worship in freedom".

Also Reinhold Sahner, pastor of the German Catholic community in the UAE, agrees that the Situation for Christians in the country was generally good. "There is hardly a difference to what we are accustomed to," said Sahner. You can move freely and also religious symbols. The state buildings, support the churches, and grant them Land for a Church.

The Pope's visit "is a hell of a historic event and an incredible joy for us," said Sahner. "It is also recognition of the work of the many people of the Christian faith in the country, working here on building the country and shaping the future."

abuse scandal weighs heavily

the gap between The super rich and the migrant workers in the Emirates is always denounced. If the Pope speaks as the "lawyer of the poor", remains to be seen.

A couple of positive news could use the Argentinian, at least at the moment. At home in Rome on the sex abuse scandal weighs heavily on him, his Image is tarnished, a lot of people turn away from the Church.

at the end of February, a summit on the topic of child abuse in the Vatican to lead the Catholic Church finally out of the crisis. Until then, the Pope has not yet been time to bask in the light of the skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi a little bit.


Created: 03.02.2019, 19:54 PM

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