His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, have discussed with His Holiness Pope Francis the friendly relations between the UAE and the Vatican as well a number of topics of mutual interest.
The leaders also examined ways to further extend cooperation so as to promote tolerance, dialogue and coexistence across the world.
At the start of the meeting, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcomed Pope Francis, and conveyed to him the greetings and best wishes of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
During the meeting, held at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi, the two sides reviewed prospects for cooperation and joint efforts to consolidate fraternity and coexistence and promote dialogue so as to ensure security, stability and peace worldwide.
Their Highnesses said that the Papal visit and related events and seminars helped to establish that all religions and cultures are ultimately one and celebrate the human spirit. It was also an important opportunity, they said, to exchange views and strengthen dialogue and tolerance.
The leaders stressed that since the UAE was established by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, it had been committed to support efforts leading to security, peace and stability. The UAE believes that peace and stability help people across the world to form the basis upon which to establish development and achieve prosperity, they said.
His Holiness Pope Francis said he was happy to visit the UAE, pointing out that his visit represented a new stage in the history of human fraternity, marked by close ties between different religions. Pope Francis added that he was also happy to have been invited by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to take part in the Human Fraternity Meeting in what he described as the land of peace, coexistence and security. He also remarked upon the role of the late Sheikh Zayed in helping to make the UAE a country which respects other civilisations, cultures and religions.
At the end of their meeting, the two sides called for strengthening cooperation between various regional and international organisations in order to formulate initiatives and visions that promote effective and constructive dialogue among different cultures and that emphasise the importance of respecting others' beliefs and promoting tolerance and peace.
The two sides said the world urgently needed to promote the spirit of fraternity and coexistence globally in order to consolidate security, peace and stability, as well as to confront attempts to distort religion and incite religious hatred.
They expressed their hope that the message of fraternity launched from the UAE would help establish a road map for dialogue, fraternity, harmony and coexistence between different nations, peoples and religions.
Pope Francis wrote a short message in the visitors' book at the Presidential Palace, expressing his happiness at visiting the UAE and receiving such a warm welcome.
He praised the vital role played by the UAE in establishing a culture of dialogue, tolerance, peaceful coexistence and brotherhood, as well as supporting the foundations of development, security and stability for the people across the world.
At the end of the meeting, Their Highnesses presented the Pope a leather box containing a document issued on 22nd June 1963 by the late Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the then Ruler of Abu Dhabi, granting a plot of land on the western side of Abu Dhabi to the Catholic Church. The commemorative gift also contained a historical picture of Sheikh Shakhbut with Bishop Luigi Magliacani da Castel del Piano, then the Catholic Vicar Apostolic of Arabia.
Among those who attended the meeting were H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region; Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of the Federal National Council; H.H. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler's Representative in Al Ain Region; Sheikh Suroor bin Mohammed Al Nahyan; H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council; H.H. Lt General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior; H.H. Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor, H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court; H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; H.H. Sheikh Omar bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation; H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs; H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Advisor to His Highness the UAE President; H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Sheikh Diab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi's Department of Transport.
His Holiness Pope Francis was accompanied by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of People; Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, Substitute of the Secretariat of State; Archbishop Francisco M. Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Arab Emirates; Bishop Miguel A. Ayuso Guixot, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Bishop Paul Hinder, O.F.M. Cap., Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia; Msgr. Gianluca Pezzoli, Official of the Secretariat of State; Fr. Simon Peter Lukyamuzi, Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature; Fr. Michael P. O'Sullivan, Local Coordinator; Fr. Antonino Spadaro, SJ, Director of 'La Civilta Cattolica'; and Dr. Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, as well as other senior officials.
Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs