Abu Dhabi, UAE June 12, 2015: Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State was in the capital city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to bless the new Catholic Church in the Musaffah district. The Church is dedicated to St. Paul.
The UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan was the guest of honour to officially inaugurate the complex on the evening of June 11, 2015.
Speaking at the inauguration of the second church in the city, Cardinal Parolin said: “The number of Christian faithul in the UAE is growing and even though they come from many national and ethnic groups, languages and cultures, yet they are brought together in unity by their Catholic faith. Our lives are closely linked to people of other religions and we seek to promote peaceful co-existence of peoples as we endeavour to become a global fraternity of nations with the common goal of building human society upon the noble principles of justice, peace, prosperity and equality for all.”
He further elucidated the beliefs we share with our Muslim brethren, of one God who has created the universe, the common purpose we have to strive towards holiness by leading good lives, in conformity with the teachings of our faith and by being upright and active members of society.
Similar sentiments were echoed by His Excellency Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister for Culture, Youth and Community Development, when he praised the virtuous leadership of the late Sheikh Zayed who guided the United Arab Emirates in the vision of becoming a tolerant, respectful and harmonious society, devoted to dialogue across nations, cultures and religious boundaries. He quoted the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s declaration that the country has relied and will continue to rely on its people for its prosperity and diversity, and as such his firm hope that the faithful of St. Paul’s congregation along with other people who live and work in the United Arab Emirates would bring unique identities and commitments to the cosmopolitan society of the UAE.
St. Paul’s Catholic Church has been constructed on land that was donated by the Abu Dhabi government and spans 4,560 sq meters. The church which can accommodate 1200 devotees also includes within its premises, a three-storey building that houses a multi-purpose hall, residence for priests, staff and meeting rooms.
The church is expected to serve approximately 60,000 to 70,000 faithful many of whom live in the labour camps in the surrounding area.
On the occasion Bishop Paul Hinder, the Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia took the opportunity to thank the President of the country and Ruler of Abu Dhabi HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the UAE government for their generosity and graciousness in granting the land and necessary permits and for the stability, security and peace enjoyed in the country.
The UAE currently has 900,000 Catholics living in the country and now has eight churches across the Emirates, including the recently inaugurated St. Paul’s church. The Bishop has shared his hopes for the opening of new churches in the eastern suburbs and the western region of Abu Dhabi Emirate as well.
Bishop Hinder said: “Wealth is only a blessing when it is administered with a high sense of responsibility by well qualified and dedicated leaders. The Catholic Church is not simply a praying community but forms its followers in respect for life, care for the environment, honesty and dedication, under the wise guidance of Pope Francis, our spiritual head. Working together in mutual respect we can all contribute to the prosperity and peace of the country.”
Following the inauguration on 11th June 2015, the Church was blessed on the morning of 12th June 2015 by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, assisted by Archbishop Petar Rajic, the Apostolic Nuncio, Bishop Paul Hinder and Bishop Camillo Ballin, the Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia in the mass of dedication. The service was attended by over 5,000 people.
Along with daily services in English, the church will also have regular services in Arabic, Konkani, Malayalam, Tagalog and Tamil to cater to the faithful who reside in the area.