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Pope Francis holds open-air Mass in Abu Dhabi


Abu Dhabi:  Pope Francis held an open-air Mass in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday as part of his historic trip as the first head of the Catholic Church to the Arabian Peninsula and called on Christians to promote peace in the region.

"It is my hope that you will be like this, rooted in Jesus and ready to do good to those around you. May your communities be oases of peace," the pontiff, who arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday on a three-day trip, told over 120,000 worshippers, mostly migrants, at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.

"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," Efe news quoted the Pope as saying. 

"But the Lord is faithful and does not abandon his people."

The Pope said he came to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to thank the Christians for "the way in which you live the Gospel we heard.

On Monday, the pontiff called for an end to war, injustice and inequality as he addressed hundreds of representatives from different faiths at an inter-religious meeting, among them Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Egypt's Grand Imam of al-Azhar, the world's largest Sunni Islamic centre of learning.

Highlighting conflicts in regions such as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya, the pontiff said: "God is with those who seek peace."

The Pope's visit to the UAE is to highlight the little-known Catholic community in the nation.

The Emirati government has allocated its Christian population land and churches where they can practice their faith.

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