Pope Francis on Monday held talks with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi during a historic three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates.
During his address, the pontiff urged leaders to embrace peace saying the consequences of war are deadly and have left many countries in disarray.
“War cannot create anything but misery, weapons bring nothing but death. Its fateful consequences are before our eyes.
“I am thinking in particular of Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya," he said.
Al-Tayeb, on the other hand, asked Muslims to embrace their Christian brothers, adding that there is no minority and both of them have equal rights and responsibilities.
“Continue to embrace your brothers the Christian citizens everywhere, for they are our partners in our nation,” he said.
To Christians, he noted: “You are part of this nation. You are citizens, you are not a minority. You are citizens with full rights and responsibilities.”
The two leaders kissed as a sign of peace and the gesture was applauded around the world with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hailing it as a step in the right direction.
“The United States applauds @Pontifex arrival in UAE as a historic moment for religious freedom. The first Holy Mass by a pope in the Arabian Peninsula promotes peace and understanding between two of the world’s great religions,” wrote Pompeo.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, expressed his delight at hosting the Pope saying the visit will go a long way in creating stability in future.
“The leadership & nation of the UAE are proud of this historic visit of two greatly respected religious figures.
“It embodies our belief in the values of love & tolerance as a pathway for humanity towards peace, security, stability & rapprochement between different people & culture,” he said.