Pope Francis delivers first papal mass in the birthplace of Islam

Abu Dhabi, UAE (CNN)Pope Francis became the first pontiff to celebrate Mass in the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, on Tuesday, delivering an address to tens of thousands of people in Abu Dhabi at the end of a historic visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The ceremony took place inside and around Zayed Sports City stadium, where a large crucifix — a rare sight in an Arab Gulf state — loomed above the makeshift steeple.
In his homily, the Pope praised the crowd as “a choir composed of numerous nations, languages and rites.” Perhaps in a nod to the UAE’s predominantly immigrant population, he said: “It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about the future. But the Lord is faithful and does not abandon his people.”

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