His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, expressed his deep appreciation for the UAE and its role in promoting a culture of peace, tolerance and coexistence both regionally and globally.
"The greatness of any country is not measured solely by its wealth, but by its substantial role in spreading the values of peace, brotherhood, coexistence, and defending them," His Holiness stated.
In an interview published in the UAE-based Arabic language newspaper Al Ittihad, His Holiness expressed his deep appreciation for President His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahayan's commitment to supporting international peace and tolerance efforts, combating diseases worldwide, and disseminating the principles of the "Document on Human Fraternity" through tangible initiatives aimed at improving the lives of the underprivileged.
His Holiness described the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan as a farsighted leader who built his country on tolerance, coexistence and education and whose sons are following in his footsteps.
Pope Francis reaffirmed the significance of the Document on Human Fraternity as a roadmap for peace, and lauded the Abrahamic Family House and the UAE's courage in implementing this important project.
He recalled his historic visit to Abu Dhabi, saying, "I remember with great joy and gratitude my trip to the UAE in 2019 and the warm welcome I received. I was deeply impressed by the generosity and hospitality that your dear country showed me. In my speech in Abu Dhabi, I said that this country's investments are being made not only in the extraction of the earth's resources, but also in those of the heart, in the education of young people."
His Holiness added, "I greatly appreciate the commitment of the UAE and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to building the future and shaping an open identity capable of overcoming the temptation to close in on oneself and become rigid. I also appreciate their support for international efforts for peace and tolerance because investing in culture promotes the decline of hatred and contributes to the growth of civilisation and prosperity."
Regarding the Document on Human Fraternity, His Holiness said, "I am very pleased with the acceptance and understanding of the global community of the document's message and its goals as a guide for future generations, acknowledging that we are all members of one human family."
In his first statement about the recent burning of the Holy Quran in Sweden, His Holiness said that permitting such behaviour is ‘unacceptable and condemned’. He stressed that freedom of expression should not be used as an excuse to offend others, expressing his deep anger at such behaviour.
His Holiness believes that the future of interfaith cooperation is based on the principle of reciprocity, respect for others, and the truth.
Pope Francis called for providing young people with the necessary tools to protect them from falling into malicious conflicts, negative messages, fake news, material temptations, hatred and prejudice. He emphasised that freedom, discernment, and responsibility are the most important tools.
His Holiness described the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) as an urgent appeal to address the environmental crisis, expressing his hope that the UAE's efforts to host the conference in Expo City Dubai this November will succeed in providing solutions.