Bishop praises freedom of worship in UAE ahead of Pope visit

Catholic Bishop to Southern Arabia says landmark visit is step forward in relationship between the church and Muslim world

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , DEC 20  – 2017 :-  Bishop Paul Hinder , Catholic Bishop for Southern Arabia during the interview at his home near the St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi.  (Pawan Singh / The National) Story by Roberta Pennington

Paul Hinder, Catholic Bishop to Southern Arabia, hailed the security and freedom of worship enjoyed in the UAE as ­excitement builds ahead of the Pope’s visit.

The bishop said Pope Francis's visit will be "a step forward in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Muslim world".

“Of course there are countries in the region where there is risk, but here in the UAE we enjoy remarkable security,” Bishop Hinder said.

The UAE is readying itself for the first papal visit to the GCC. The Pope is scheduled to land in the capital on February 3, where he will be welcomed by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

As well as a visit to St Joseph's Catholic church and a public Mass for 135,000 people, the two leaders are expected to discuss human fraternity and peace, as well as tolerance between religions.

Both have spoken out against extremism, with Pope Francis asking followers to pray for an end to the "inhumane violence" in the world and Sheikh Mohamed holding talks with international leaders in an attempt to create stability and prosperity in the region.

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