Abu Dhabi: Bishop Paolo Martinelli has been installed as the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia church has said.
The installation ceremony took place on Saturday at St Joseph’s Cathedral Abu Dhabi, during Holy Mass celebrations in the evening, and in keeping with Pope Francis’ appointment of Bishop Martinelli.
Bishop Martinelli succeeded Bishop Paul Hinder, 80, who served the church in Southern Arabia - UAE, Oman and Yemen – for over 18 years.
Bishop Martinelli, 64, was previously an auxiliary bishop in Milan. He is a member of the Franciscan Capuchin Order, and holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He has also taught at the Pontifical Gregorian University and at the Pontifical University of Antonianum in Rome, and has authored and edited several books and articles on spiritual life.
In his inaugural speech, Bishop Martinelli said he was surprised, yet delighted, by his appointment to the Vicarate of Southern Arabia.
“Your Highnesses the rulers of these nations, esteemed authorities, religious leaders, and my dear brothers and sisters living in the United Arab Emirates, Sultanate of Oman and Yemen, as-salamu alaykum! peace be with you all!” he said in greeting.
“After eight years of service in the Diocese of Milan as auxiliary bishop, the Lord calls me to be a shepherd in this region so unlike my homeland, but which I find fascinating on so many levels,” Bishop Martinelli said.
He went on to thank his predecessor at the church.
“I thank Bishop Paul Hinder OFM Cap for his whole-hearted welcome. I take this opportunity to express my deep admiration for the great work and wise counsel, that he demonstrated during his 18 years of service as the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia. I wish and will try to follow his example as I place myself completely at the disposal of God’s people in this land,” Bishop Martinelli said.
Need for coexistence
The new appointee also hailed the UAE’s inclusiveness in his first speech to the faithful.
“My deep appreciation goes to this land, which houses numerous traditions, it is a crossroad where people from many nations meet, interact and work together on a daily basis. The rulers, authorities, and dignitaries of these nations have my full respect for promoting the spirit of respectful coexistence and tolerance. St Paul in his writings asks us to pray for our rulers, I pray that the rulers of these countries be given the wisdom from God to lead the nation and its people on the path of peace and prosperity. God has called all human beings to live together as brothers and sisters, even if they belong to different cultures, peoples and religions,” Bishop Martinelli said.
He referenced the Document on Human Fraternity, which was signed by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, in Abu Dhabi in February 2019.
At the very beginning of my office as the shepherd in this Vicariate, I express a great desire to elevate interreligious dialogue and the promotion of universal brotherhood according to the spirit of the document on Human Fraternity, signed by Holy Father, Pope Francis, and Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, on 4th February 2019. In the introduction of this decisive document we read, “Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved”. Hence, different religions can greatly contribute to societies throughout the world by promoting peace and love,” he said.
“The fact that this important document was signed here in Abu Dhabi, makes us all responsible for its message of peace, as it invites all religions to work together for the common good and promotion of goodwill because every person is loved by God. We all are indeed called to build up a more fraternal world,” Bishop Martinelli added.
The episcopal motto of Bishop Martinelli is ‘Gloria Dei vivens homo’ – Latin for ‘the glory of God is man fully alive’, taken from the writings of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, the church said in a statement.