Abu Dhabi marks interfaith effort a year after Pope’s visit

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Interfaith leaders gathered on Monday in Abu Dhabi to mark one year since Pope Francis’ historic trip to the Arabian Peninsula, a visit that saw leading Muslim clerics gather alongside the pope to promote co-existence.

Abu Dhabi hosted Monday’s meeting to showcase its continued efforts in promoting interfaith dialogue as it prepares to break ground this year on a compound that will house a mosque, church and synagogue side by side. The Abrahamic House of Fraternity project is due to be completed in 2022.


In the neighboring emirate of Dubai, an unmarked villa has already been turned into a synagogue.

A US rabbi, a representative of the Catholic church and a trained sheikh from Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Islamic learning, attended Monday’s briefing where they discussed ongoing interfaith efforts.

Pope Francis’ trip last year marked the first ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula. He ended his trip with a mass for 180,000 Christians, capping a visit that emphasized the presence of minority Christians in the region and a greater understanding with Islam.

During his trip, Francis also participated in a conference on interreligious dialogue and signed a “human fraternity” document to promote coexistence and confront extremism with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb.

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