By Andrea Tornielli
Pope Francis greeted the journalists accompanying him to Abu Dhabi aboard the papal plane.
The Pope was introduced by the words of the interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, who said: “Holy Father, it seems like yesterday - it almost was yesterday - that we were on the flight back from Panama. Among the many welcome posters there was one from the Muslim community of Panama that read: ‘Welcome Pope Francis, man of peace’, in Spanish. It is with this spirit that I believe they await you in the Emirates, as a man of peace, to strengthen dialogue”.
Gratitude and an icon
The Pope first thanked the journalists for their presence, then added: “This morning I received news that it was raining in Abu Dhabi, and there it is thought of as a sign of blessing. Let’s hope that everything goes like that”.
Pope Francis continued, saying: “I brought each of you an icon made in the monastery of Bose, a copy, so that you can take it home. It’s on the theme of dialogue between the old and the young. I care deeply about this topic, and I think it’s a challenge”.
The icon, distributed to journalists by the Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Paolo Ruffini, shows a young monk carrying an elderly monk on his shoulders.
During his exchange of greetings with journalists, sweets prepared by nuns who care for the sick were given to the Pope.
Someone else told the Pope an Emirati doctor’s story who studied in Italy and who in recent weeks, on the occasion of the trip and as a tribute to Pope Francis, decided to carry out surgical procedures free-of-charge on a hundred children who are victims of the war in Yemen.
A photographer from Ansa, from the Italian city of Genoa, gave the Pope a T-shirt with the stylized image of the Morandi Bridge that collapsed last August.