JUST IN: Pope Francis Arrives in Abu Dhabi – First Pontiff to Visit Birthplace of Islam

Pope Francis arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday to begin a three-day visit to the Arabian Peninsula.

The Pope’s trip to the Arabian Peninsula is historic; he is the first Pontiff to visit the birthplace of Islam.

The Associated Press reported that Pope Francis is seeking to turn the page in Christian-Muslim relations.

Pope Francis will also hold a giant Mass on Tuesday which is expected to draw 135,000 people in what many are calling the largest show of Christian worship on the Arabian Peninsula ever.

 

More from the AP:

Francis traveled to Abu Dhabi to participate in a conference on interreligious dialogue sponsored the Emirates-based Muslim Council of Elders, an initiative that seeks to counter religious fanaticism by promoting a moderate brand of Islam. It’s the brainchild of Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Islam that trains clerics and scholars from around the world.

In a video message to the Emirates on the eve of his trip, Francis paid homage to his “friend and dear brother” el-Tayeb and praised his courage in calling the meeting to assert that “God unites and doesn’t divide.”

“I am pleased with this meeting offered by the Lord to write, on your dear land, a new page in the history of relations among religions and confirm that we are brothers despite our differences,” Francis said.

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