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Pope celebrates Mass in Abu Dhabi stadium: “Always act with meekness and justice”

It is estimated that 1 million of the 9 million immigrants in the United Arab Emirates are Catholic. Pope Francis dedicated his second day in the country to them. 

All of the nation's Catholics could not attend since the Zayed Sports City Stadium and the surrounding area could only hold 100 thousand. 

Pope Francis arrived in the popemobile and did several laps inside the stadium. One girl hopped one of the security fences in order to hand him a letter. He stopped his vehicle and greeted her. 

It was the largest Mass ever celebrated in Arabia. The pope celebrated it under a large cross. 

In the Name of the Father... 

In his homily, Pope Francis shared a message of optimism for the Catholics of this region, who live far from their home countries and are often considered second-class citizens. 

“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. The Lord is faithful and does not abandon His people. It can happen that, when faced with a trial or a difficult period, we think we are alone; even after all the time we have spent with the Lord. In those moments, where He might not intervene immediately, He walks at our side. If we continue to go forward, He will open up a new way for us.”

The pope asked them to practice the Christianity. This means not focusing solely on following rules but instead understanding God's love. This is embodied in the Beatitudes.

“The Beatitudes are thus a roadmap for our life: they do not require superhuman actions, but rather the imitation of Jesus in our everyday life. They invite us to keep our hearts pure, to practice meekness and justice despite everything, to be merciful to all, to live affliction in union with God. This is the holiness of daily life, one that has no need of miracles or of extraordinary signs.”

He paused to speak on meekness, since acting with aggression or subjugating others is not Christian. Meekness, though, that can also mean enduring injustices. 

“Meekness is important: if we live in the world according to the ways of God, we will become channels of His presence; otherwise, we will not bear fruit.”

During the ceremony, the country's fellow Catholics presented the offerings. 

After Communion, Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia, Paul Hinder, concluded the Mass. He is the bishop for all Catholics living in that zone. 

Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia
“We Christians try to implement the order St. Francis gave at his time to his brothers to “live spiritually among the Muslims... not to engage in arguments and (simply) to acknowledge that (we) are Christians. “I wish to thank the authorities of the United Arab Emirates, especially His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who generously have made this visit possible and given us this space in order to have a public Mass with as many faithful as possible.”

As a commemoration of this brief, but intense visit, the pope gifted them a chalice, so that they can remember this special day every time they celebrate Mass in Abu Dhabi's cathedral.