Lights of faith and tolerance shine

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces held talks with Pope Francis on Thursday to enhance interfaith dialogue and religious freedom for all.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and his delegation with Pope Francis. Claudio Peri / AFP
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and his delegation with Pope Francis. Claudio Peri / AFP

ABU DHABI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s visit to the Vatican will help to promote the ideals of tolerance, coexistence and acceptance of other beliefs, religious figures in the UAE say.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces held talks with Pope Francis on Thursday to enhance interfaith dialogue and religious freedom for all.

Bishop Paul Hinder, from St Joseph’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi, said he hoped Sheikh Mohammed and the pope would talk about ways to stop violence and the misuse of religion for vested interests.

“I am happy about the visit,” he said. “It will foster the efforts which are done from both sides for interfaith dialogue and looking for collaboration.”

Bishop Hinder said all religions and people needed to work and act together “to build up society”.

“The UAE is a remarkably tolerant society where people from many nationalities live peacefully,” he said.

Sheikh Mohammed’s visit to the Vatican carried on the legacy of the Founding Father Sheikh Zayed, the bishop said.

“Basic values are common between Islam and Christianity,” he said.

“We have to fight against poverty together and help the poor out from their misery.

“In fact, the UAE is already doing a lot in the field.”

He said radical groups that tried to use religion to promote their ideology were “criminals and did not follow true religion”.

Father Gandolf, from the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, the Catholic Church in UAE, Oman and Yemen, said the pope was a world figure who took into account the whole of humanity and helped all.

“I think there is lots of affinity and mutual understanding between the pope’s approach to the problems of the world and the UAE’s approach,” he said, praising the UAE for creating the Ministry of Tolerance and bringing more young people into government.

“The meeting between the pope and Sheikh Mohammed will certainly have a great influence because the UAE is the most open country in the Gulf where more than 200 nationalities live together and practice their religion freely.

“We have great support from the rulers who have gifted land for churches.”

anwar@thenational.ae

Published: September 15, 2016 04:00 AM

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