Abu Dhabi (Agenzia Fides) - "It was a moment of joy to serve and meet Pope Francis. It was a great blessing from God for all of us who live in the United Arab Emirates", says to Agenzia Fides Nadeem Lal Bhatti, a Catholic Pakistani resident in the United Arab Emirates for 7 years, engaged in the liturgical service group in St. Joseph Cathedral in Abu Dhabi, recalling the visit of Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates from 3 to 5 February. "The memorable moments with the people, with the faithful belonging to various nationalities will remain in our hearts and minds. Everyone enjoyed a climate of celebration and friendship in those days, even non-Christians. We will continue to commit ourselves to building bridges of harmony and solidarity", he notes. "The Pope gave all of us, to the society of the Emirates, a message of peace, hope and fraternity. After this visit, we feel that the theme of tolerance and coexistence among the faithful of different religions has strengthened in daily life", he says, recalling that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) celebrate "the Year of tolerance" in 2019. The United Arab Emirates are home to a population of over 200 nationalities from various continents. And, despite having Islam as an official religion, they are known for the respect and freedom of worship given to all other faiths", he notes.
Adonis Panen, a young Filipino and extraordinary minister of Communion, who carried out liturgical service during the papal mass, speaking to Fides, declares: "The Pope's visit to this country has left a legacy of joy, between Catholics and non-Catholics. The climate of happiness among the people who participated in the papal Mass strengthened unity, peace and harmony in the United Arab Emirates".
Francis John, an Indian citizen resident in the United Arab Emirates for twenty years, who served as a volunteer, told Fides: "We worked hard for two months to prepare all the logistical-organizational aspects of the trip. It is the dream of every baptized to participate in the Pope’s Mass. For us who work in the United Arab Emirates it was a special blessing". (AG) (Agenzia Fides, 21/2/2019)