The prelate took over the vicariate, concelebrating his first Mass in St Joseph's Cathedral in Abu Dhabi. He thanked his predecessor, Bishop Hinder, for his “great work”. He also stressed the role Catholic parishes and schools play and noted that the document signed by Pope Francis and Grand Imam el-Tayeb should not be forgotten.
Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) – With a call for cultural pluralism and tolerance, Bishop Paolo Martinelli made his official entry into St Joseph's Cathedral in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), as the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia.
In his address, he expressed “deep admiration" for Arabia, a land with “numerous traditions" and a “crossroads” where "people from many nations meet, interact and work together on a daily basis”.
Bishop Paul Hinder welcomed the new apostolic vicar of southern Arabia last Saturday in the land where Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb of al-Azhar signed the “Document on Human Fraternity”.
The 80-year-old Hinder resigned due to age after leading the vicariate for more 18 years starting in 2003. As a final act, he concelebrated a solemn Mass with his successor, Bishop Martinelli.
The 64-year-old Martinelli is a member of the Capuchin Friars Minor of the province of San Carlo in Lombardy. For the past eight years, he served as auxiliary bishop of Milan (Italy).
“The rulers, authorities, and dignitaries of these nations have my full respect for promoting the spirit of respectful coexistence and tolerance,” the new vicar said.
“God has called all human beings to live together as brothers and sisters, even if they belong to different cultures, peoples and religions,” he added.
“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.”
In his view, “different religions can greatly contribute to societies throughout the world by promoting peace and love.”
Speaking about his predecessor, Bishop Hinder, he thanked him 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”.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia has two million members, mostly migrants from India, the Philippines and other Asian countries.
Martinelli expressed special appreciation for the important pastoral work done by parishes, as well as the “precious contributions of Catholic schools" and churches that represent "a central meeting point for everyone, especially believers and families”.
In a land full of “riches” but also tragic situations, like Yemen, the Document on Human Fraternity becomes “fundamental” and whose memory “we are duty-bound to preserve” while furthering its “cultural, social and religious implications”.