Pope finishes first papal visit to the Gulf with service for 170,000 Catholics in UAE

Pope finishes first papal visit to the Gulf with service for 170,000 Catholics in UAE

 On Monday, the pope called for an end to wars in the turbulent Middle East, including in Yemen and Syria, at a meeting with a top sheikh and rabbi in the UAE.

All religious leaders had a “duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word war”, he told the interfaith meeting.

“I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya,” he said.

Yemen is in the grip of what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, triggered by the intervention of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies in a civil war between the government and Shiite Muslim rebels.

While the pope did not openly discuss politics, he called for “the full recognition” of the rights of people across the Middle East, a potential reference to Christian minorities and communities including Shiites in Saudi Arabia, refugees, migrants and stateless peoples.

“I look forward to societies where people of different beliefs have the same right of citizenship and where only in the case of violence in any of its forms is that right removed,” he said.

At their meeting Monday, the pope and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s prestigious seat of learning, signed a document on “human fraternity for world peace”, hailed by the Vatican as an “important step forward in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims”.

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