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Pope in historic UAE visit urges faith leaders to reject war

Updated : February 05, 2019 01:00 PM IST

Pope Francis urged religious leaders Monday to work together to reject the "miserable crudeness" of war as he opened the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, with a strong denunciation of violence committed in God's name.

In a keynote speech to an interfaith gathering in the United Arab Emirates, Francis warned that the future of humanity was at stake unless religions come together to resist the "logic of armed power ... the arming of borders, the raising of walls."

Francis' speech, delivered at the Emirates' Founders' Memorial, capped a historic day that began when he arrived at the presidential palace for a welcome ceremony in a tiny Kia hatchback — only to be greeted by an artillery salute and military flyover by a country at war.

Even for a nation known for excess, the Emiratis' red-carpet welcome was remarkable, especially for a pope who prides himself on simplicity. It featured horse-mounted guards escorting the pontiff's motorcade through the palace gardens while the flyover trailed the yellow and white smoke of the Vatican flag.

Francis' speech to the gathering of faith leaders was the highlight of his 40-hour visit to Abu Dhabi. His trip concludes Tuesday with the first papal Mass on the Arabian Peninsula, a gathering expected to draw some 135,000 faithful in a never-before-seen display of public Christian worship here.

Francis' visit, 800 years after his peace-loving namesake St. Francis of Assisi visited an Egyptian sultan, marked the culmination of years of Holy See efforts to improve relations with the Muslim world after they hit a low during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. Since then, religious fanaticism and faith-inspired wars have only grown around the globe.

Image Source: AP/Reuters

Pope Francis holds a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis holds a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis greet people as he arrives to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
Pope Francis greet people as he arrives to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
Pope Francis holds a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis holds a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis arrives to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis arrives to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
People wait before Pope Francis arrives to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
People wait before Pope Francis arrives to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
People pose for a photo in front of a sign welcoming Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
People pose for a photo in front of a sign welcoming Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
People wait before the arrival of Pope Francis to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
People wait before the arrival of Pope Francis to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to hold a mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Pope Francis greets Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, after an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Pope Francis has asserted in the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula that religious leaders have a duty to reject all war and commit themselves to dialogue. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis greets Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, after an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Pope Francis has asserted in the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula that religious leaders have a duty to reject all war and commit themselves to dialogue. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
From left, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Pope Francis, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum attend an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Pope Francis arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. His visit represents the first papal trip ever to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
From left, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Pope Francis, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum attend an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Pope Francis arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. His visit represents the first papal trip ever to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis, left, and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, sign a declaration after an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis, left, and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, sign a declaration after an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis, left, and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, exchange a joint statement on
Pope Francis, left, and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, exchange a joint statement on "human fraternity" after an inter-faith meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis is welcomed by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE's Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Palace, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Pope Francis opened his historic visit to the United Arab Emirates on Monday with an address to faith leaders in a Muslim region known for its restrictions on religious freedom. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Pope Francis is welcomed by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE's Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Palace, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Pope Francis opened his historic visit to the United Arab Emirates on Monday with an address to faith leaders in a Muslim region known for its restrictions on religious freedom. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Pope Francis, stands at the palace entrance, flanked by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, left, on the occasion of an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Francis has arrived at the presidential palace to officially start his historic visit to the United Arab Emirates as canons boomed and a military aircraft flew over trailing the yellow and white smoke of the Holy See flag. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis, stands at the palace entrance, flanked by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, left, on the occasion of an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Francis has arrived at the presidential palace to officially start his historic visit to the United Arab Emirates as canons boomed and a military aircraft flew over trailing the yellow and white smoke of the Holy See flag. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis, stands at the palace entrance, flanked by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, left, on the occasion of an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis, stands at the palace entrance, flanked by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, left, on the occasion of an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Wind blows Pope Francis' cape during an official welcome ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Palace, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Wind blows Pope Francis' cape during an official welcome ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Palace, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Yellow and white smoke, the colors of the Vatican flag, trail behind military aircrafts flying over the Presidential Palace during an official an official welcome ceremony for Pope Francis, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Yellow and white smoke, the colors of the Vatican flag, trail behind military aircrafts flying over the Presidential Palace during an official an official welcome ceremony for Pope Francis, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis is welcomed by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE's Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Palace, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. The Emiratis' red-carpet welcome was remarkable for a pope who prides himself on simplicity. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Pope Francis is welcomed by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE's Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Palace, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. The Emiratis' red-carpet welcome was remarkable for a pope who prides himself on simplicity. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Pope Francis is welcomed by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, on the occasion of their meeting at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis is welcomed by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, on the occasion of their meeting at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis is welcomed by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, on the occasion of their meeting at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis is welcomed by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, on the occasion of their meeting at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, indicates to Pope Francis where to stand during an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, indicates to Pope Francis where to stand during an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis arrives for an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. At right is Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis arrives for an official welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. At right is Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis is followed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, background, on the occasion of their meeting at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis is followed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, background, on the occasion of their meeting at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Presidential guards arrive on the occasion of Pope Francis' visit at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Francis (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Presidential guards arrive on the occasion of Pope Francis' visit at the Presidential Palace, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Francis (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A view of the interior of the Presidential Palace ahead of a welcome ceremony for Pope Francis, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A view of the interior of the Presidential Palace ahead of a welcome ceremony for Pope Francis, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, right, attend an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Pope Francis arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. His visit represents the first papal trip ever to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, right, attend an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. Pope Francis arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. His visit represents the first papal trip ever to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis delivers his speech during an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis delivers his speech during an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis speaks during an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis speaks during an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis hugs Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, after an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis hugs Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, after an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis hugs Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, after an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis hugs Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, after an inter-religious meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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