Dear Brothers and Sisters: I have just completed a brief visit to the United Arab Emirates, brief but important, for it marked a step forward in interreligious dialogue and in the commitment to promoting peace in the world. This was the first papal visit to the Arabian peninsula and took place eight hundred years after Saint Francis of Assisi visited Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. The providence of God wished to see a Pope named Francis make such a journey, and I thought often of the Saint for it helped me keep the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ close to my heart. I thank the Crown Prince, the President, the Vice President and all the Authorities who welcomed me, and Bishop Paul Hinder for preparing the event with the Catholic community. My affectionate thanks go to the priests, religious and lay faithful who enliven the Christian presence in that land. Beyond all the speeches, one further step was taken in Abu Dhabi when the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and I signed the Document on Human Fraternity. There we affirm the common vocation of all men and women to be brothers and sisters as children of God, we reject every form of violence – especially that committed in the name of religion – and we dedicate ourselves to defending authentic values and peace in the world. Let us pray that the seeds sown during the visit may bear much fruit according to his holy will.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from England and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you!