Emirates News Agency – Spreading message of human brotherhood document is part of my duty: Bishop Martinelli

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By Guendalina Dainelli
ABU DHABI, 10th November, 2022 (WAM) — The Bishop’s House overlooks the Great Court of St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Behind the low building, preceded by a pleasant garden of bougainvilleas, stand the four minarets of the mosque Mary the Mother of Jesus.
It is in these Spartan environments that the Apostolic Vicariate of South Arabia is located, a territorial jurisdiction of the Catholic Church that covers the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen. At the entrance, images of His Holiness Pope Francis and President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan recall the historic first trip of a Pontiff to Abu Dhabi.
New Bishop Paolo Marinelli officially began his ministry on July 2. “The meeting at the start surprised me,” he admits with a benevolent expression. “So I understood that this is in keeping with tradition. This area was served for a long time by the order of Capuchin friars. The Vicariate was created with different dimensions in 1888 as the Apostolic Vicariate of Aden and entrusted to the Capuchin Franciscans of Lyon, France. The headquarters moved here in 1974. Even my predecessor, Bishop Emeritus Paul Hinder is a Capuchin. There are about 70 priests in the region and 45 are Capuchins.

Former auxiliary bishop of Milan, Bishop Martinelli still seems a little dazed. “It all happened in two months, I arrived just after a total immersion in Oxford to perfect my English. I received a very warm welcome from the community. When I arrived at the Compound, there were children with flowers. I entered the church, and it was full of people. We prayed together. I was also lucky to find brothers here who had been my students when I was a teacher at the Pontifical University.

The bishop’s enthusiasm is palpable: “There is great cultural and religious wealth in the country. From the first days, I met the local authorities and several ambassadors. Now I am touring the nine parishes that offer services to around a million faithful, all migrants, spread across the Vicariate, most of them in the Emirates. Parishes are fascinating places of interaction.

“We live in a time when the world is mixing, and in the UAE, ‘mixing’ is the rule, a way of life,” adds Martinelli. “This idea of ​​tolerance, like hospitality and coexistence, is a pillar of the country. It reminds me of the story of Saint Francis. He met the sultan on his journey and in his writings it is evident that he is positively impressed by the meeting with his Muslim brothers: after having been in Damietta, he wrote an open letter to the “leaders of the people” and invited them to encourage the praise of the peoples towards God. It is clear that he has in head the Muezzin and his call to pray St. Francis teaches us that we can learn from each other.

Bishop Martinelli describes his mandate: “For now I need to listen, observe and learn. It will take months to know this place. It amazes me to see crowded churches, even early in the morning on weekdays. a lot of young people. I come from Milan, from a very secularized society. I am struck by the request to be blessed, if only by a simple gesture. This recognition for the Shepherd sign of Jesus is so authentic and spontaneous. It’s nice.”

When I ask him about the contribution he intends to make with his ministry, his words go to the signing of the “Document on Human Fraternity” in Abu Dhabi in 2019 by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahamad al-Tayyib and His Holiness Pope Francis. “It is a magnificent text. I have read it countless times. I feel that it is my duty to help make it better known and to disseminate it widely. It opens up a new perspective, in which religious dialogue is not only doctrinal. opportunity to get to know each other better and build a better world. There is a strong idea that violence in the name of God cannot be sustained. Religions, all religions, can help the world become more humane. This is the message that the document entrusts to us. “

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