190128 pope francis
Image Credit:

Dubai: The Pakistani Christian community, especially Roman Catholics, are all praise for the UAE government for hosting Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi.

“This is a great opportunity for all of us to see our leader in person right here in the UAE because not all of us can travel to Rome to see him,” said Charles Lazarus, Group Coordinator at St Michael Catholic Church in Sharjah for the Urdu speaking community.

“This is a life-time opportunity for lower- and middle-income groups of Catholics here and we will all be present at the Papal mass at the Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi on February 5,” he told Gulf News.

Charles Lazarus 02
Charles Lazarus Image Credit: Supplied

Lazarus specially thanked the UAE government for providing everything free – from tickets to transport and to lunch boxes to people attending the mass.

Pope Francis will visit the UAE from February 3 to 5, his first visit to any of the GCC states. More than 120,000 people are expected to attend the Papal mass on February 5.

john-qadir-1548839715076
Rev. John Qadir

Pope Francis will visit the UAE from February 3 to 5, his first visit to any of the GCC states. More than 120,000 people are expected to attend the Papal mass on February 5.

A large number of Roman Catholics are also travelling to the UAE from Pakistan to attend the mass along with hundreds of Pakistani Christians living in the UAE.

“We are very excited for the Pope’s visit and have already made all the arrangements to attend the mass,” said Javed Jude, a coordinator at St Michael Catholic Church in Sharjah. He said it is a great blessing for Christians especially for “us the Catholics to attend the mass”.

“I know at least 50 people who are coming from Pakistan but there must be hundreds of others because people have done registration online and we don’t have full data on this,” he said.

charles-Jude-1548839718040
Javed Jude

Even non-Catholics are excited on the Pope’s visit.

Reverend John Qadir, a leading personality amongst Pakistani non-Catholics in the UAE, told Gulf News that he will also attend the mass and listen to the Pope in person. “Pope Francis is a torch-bearer of peace in the world and we all vouch for this,” he added.

Qadir praised the role played by the Roman Catholic Church in Pakistan.

“They have the best educational institutions including schools and colleges across Pakistan in addition to healthcare facilities. They have built houses for poor people and their nuns take care of terminally ill people including HIV patients in Pakistan,” he said.

Qadir said more than 4,000 Pakistani Christians live in the UAE.