As Pope Francis thrills the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the pontiff’s forthcoming visit next month, Feb. 3-5, the Vatican has warned the Catholic faithful in the country not to fall prey to fake tickets to the papal mass at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium and “avoid every kind of competition and self-promotion.”
Around 120,000 people are expected to participate in the mass on Feb. 5, but a larger number of people are wanting to attend what they consider as a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see the Pope.
Bishop Paul Hinder OFM Cap, Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, said in a statement published in the official website of the UAE Papal Visit that entry to the mass will be restricted by tickets but will be free of charge.
“As the capacity of the stadium (inside and outside) is limited we have had to work out a system to distribute the tickets in the most just way. In line with this, we decided to choose a system of registration per parish, each of which will get a quota of seats according to the presumed size of the parish,” the bishop said.
“Parishes will receive detailed information from the respective committee with the instructions on how to proceed. The parish priests will let you know through the communication channels of each parish how the registration will work during the coming days,” Bishop Hinder added.
As it is obvious that not all faithful can get a chance to attend the papal mass, people can still watch the whole liturgy via the website on live-stream which will also be available in each parish church.
“Therefore, it is crucial that we avoid every kind of competition and self-promotion. As a Catholic migrant Church in a Muslim country, we are called to give witness to unity, respect and mutual love and at the same time show humility. Let us continue to pray for the success of the visit of Pope Francis to the UAE and welcome him as the one who is strengthening the faith of his brothers and sisters,” Bishop Hinder reminded the Catholic faithful.
Pope Francis’ full itinerary in the UAE:
Sunday, February 3,
1:00 PM – Departure by plane from Rome/Fiumicino to Abu Dhabi
10:00 PM – Arrival at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Airport
Monday, February 4
12:00 PM – Welcome Ceremony at the main entrance of the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi
12:20 PM – Official Visit to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince in the Presidential Palace
5:00 PM – Private meeting with the members of the Muslim Council of Elders at Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque
6:10 PM – Inter-religious Meeting at the Founder’s Memorial
Discourse of the Holy Father
Tuesday, February 5
9:15 AM – Visit in private to the Cathedral
10:30 AM – Santa Messa in Zayed Sports City — Homily of the Holy Father
12:40 PM – Farewell Ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Airport
1:00 PM – Departure by plane to Rome
5:00 PM – Arrival at the Rome/Ciampino International Airport