Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Podcast: The Pope, me and the UAE

Liz Cookman speaks to Father Ani Xavier from St Paul's and the congregation at St Joseph's on how the UAE has embraced one of its largest religious minorities

Father Ani Xavier at St Paul's Church in Mussaffah. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
Father Ani Xavier at St Paul's Church in Mussaffah. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Pope Francis is about to make a landmark visit to the UAE where he will hold the first ever Catholic Mass in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Muslim-majority country is home to almost a million Catholics, and many more Christians, with people from all over the world attending churches to worship together.

At a time when Christian minorities are being persecuted in the Middle East, while Islamophobic sentiment has surged in the West, the UAE is leading by example. Despite being far from home, residents are granted the right to practice their religion freely and for many this also means the freedom of identity.

Liz Cookman speaks to Father Ani Xavier from Abu Dhabi's St Paul's in Mussaffah and the congregation at St Joseph's, the UAE's oldest Catholic church, about their relationship with their religion, how the Emirates has embraced one of its largest religious minorities and why the Pope's visit is so important.

Listen here:

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Read more on the Papal visit:

Pope Francis hails UAE as a 'model of co-existence' in video message

Inside the real global village, Dubai's sprawling multilingual Catholic church

Pope's visit speaks to a 1,400-year-old tradition of Christianity in the Gulf

Updated: February 1, 2019 01:45 PM

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