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The Holy Father preached on the beatitudes at Mass in the Emirati capital February 5.

Pope Francis on Sunday made a public plea to the global community to respect the Yemen ceasefire accord, hours before launching an historic visit to the United Arab Emirates, a prominent member of the Saudi-led coalition.

More than 120,000 worshippers packed Zayed Sports City stadium and its surroundings in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, to see the Pope, who is in the Gulf country to promote interfaith dialogue.

On Monday, February 4, when Pope Francis arrived at the UAE's magnificient palace, his vehicle of choice looked pretty small in front of a fleet of luxurious cars used by the Shiekhs and ministers of the country. During his visit he also attended an interreligious meeting and met privately with the Muslim Council of Elders.

"You are citizens with full rights and responsibilities", said Sheikh Tayeb, whose Al-Azhar university represents one of one of the main seats of learning of Sunni Islam. There will continue to be extremists, terrorists and Christians who are persecuted for their faith, be it in Pakistan or the Arabian Peninsula. "This is the reason for our joy, a joy that no one in the world and no circumstance in our lives can take from us".

"I feel renewed, positive, he is an inspiration for me and my family".

The beatitudes are "an overturning of that popular thinking, according to which it is the rich and the powerful who are blessed, those who are successful and acclaimed by the crowds", he said.

Pope Francis thanked the Catholics living in the UAE for "the way in which you live the Gospel we heard".

"It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about the future", the pope said.

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The Pope's visit to the UAE "sends a message to the whole world that the Arab region, the centre of the three monotheistic faiths, whose people have lived in harmony and peace for centuries, is unlike the often invoked image of extremism and terrorism", he said. "They can happen any time". But in those moments, where he might not intervene immediately, he walks at our side.

"The Lord specialises in doing new things; he can even open paths in the desert". "May your communities be oases of peace". On Sunday, before leaving Rome for Abu Dhabi, Francis said he was following the situation in Yemen "with great concern", and that the population was "exhausted by the lengthy conflict, and a great many children are suffering from hunger".

"Neither arguments nor disagreements", the Pope stressed.

His words hit home for many in Abu Dhabi.

This resulted in what we now know as the European Union: a model of stability and peaceful coexistence of countries, religions, communities, and cultures that were traditionally at odds with each other; often violently.

"I ask for you the grace to preserve peace, unity, to take care of each other, with that attractive fraternity in which there are no first- or second-class Christians", he told the Catholics living in the UAE. "You have to have courage to do that".

Pope Francis meanwhile is well known as an advocate for tolerance and the laying aside of differences and for his determined call for the pursuit of peace and fraternity among humanity, and the award recognises this continued commitment and approach.

They are grateful to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi for having invited him, and they are grateful to Pope Francis for having come all this way, affirming them and loving them for who they are.


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