Creating history, Pope Francis conducted a public mass at a stadium in the capital of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday. An estimated 170,000 Catholics took part in the mass. During his first ever papal visit to the Gulf where Islam was born, the Pope waved at the enthusiastic crowd carrying yellow Vatican flags and banners as he rode in an open-top Popemobile into Zayed Sports City Stadium.
An altar with a large cross was set up for the unprecedented open-air service in a country that normally restricts worship to inside churches. In his address, Francis said, "It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about the future." He added: "But the Lord is faithful and does not abandon his people." On Monday, the Pope called for an end to wars in the turbulent Middle East, including in Yemen and Syria, at a meeting with a top sheikh and rabbi in the UAE.
All religious leaders had a duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word war", he said and added: "I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya."