Abu Dhabi (Agenzia Fides) - A new Catholic church dedicated to Saint Paul was inaugurated today, Friday, June 12, in Mussaffah, in the presence of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of State.
The day before, the initial opening ceremony was also attended by the Minister for Culture Nahyan bin Mubarak, who in his speech stressed that the opening of a new church highlights the "religious tolerance" of national leaders, while Cardinal Parolin noticed how the consecration and dedication of a new church also represents "a sign of vitality" of the local church community, and Bishop Paul Hinder, OFM, apostolic Vicar for South Arabia, expressed gratitude "for the stability and the peace that we enjoy in this Country".
UAE is home to about 900 thousand Catholics: the community is made up of immigrant workers who mostly come from other Asian countries: Philippines and India. The new Catholic church, the second built in the Country - where today Cardinal Parolin celebrated the first Mass, with the rites of consecration and dedication, before thousands of faithful - will offer its pastoral service primarily to the more than 60 thousand Catholics residing in the region that includes the towns of Mussaffah, Mohammed bin Zayed City and Khalifa City. The church will celebrate Masses in English, Arabic, Malayalam and Tagalog.
During Mass - concelebrated also by Bishop Hinder and Camillo Ballin MCCJ Bishop, Apostolic Vicar of North Arabia - Cardinal Parolin also recalled "the good will of past and present rulers, for their generosity in providing the land for the construction of new churches in the Country". The permission granted by local authorities for the construction of new places of worship - said the Vatican secretary of State - is "a concrete sign of hospitality that the Emirates has now shown towards Christians", and testifies their commitment in favor of "a society based on coexistence and mutual respect".
The place of worship was built on land granted by the Municipality of Abu Dhabi, on the orders of local authorities. "The Christians who live in this country – said Cardinal Parolin yesterday, Thursday, June 11 - need opportunities to grow in their faith and witness it. My message to the Christian community is that may they be supported in their desire to grow in faith and to be charitable to others". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 12/06/2015)