This year marks the 800th anniversary of Saint Francis reaching out in peace to the Muslim world.
On his visit to UAE, Pope Francis on February 5, 2019, spoke of this historic event as he celebrated Mass in Zayed Sports City with a crowd estimated at 180,000, mostly expats from some 100 countries.
In his homily Pope Francis
With a heart grateful to the Lord, in this eighth centenary of the meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al Kāmil, I have welcomed the opportunity to come here as a believer thirsting for peace, as a brother seeking peace with the brethren. We are here to desire peace, to promote peace, to be instruments of peace.
I would like to consider for a moment two of the Beatitudes. First: “Blessed are the meek” (Mt 5:5). Those who attack or overpower others are not blessed, but rather those that uphold Jesus’ way of acting, he who saved us, and who was meek even towards his accusers. I like to quote Saint Francis when he gave his brothers instructions about approaching the Saracens and non-Christians. He wrote: “Let them not get into arguments or disagreements, but be subject to every human creature out of love for God and let them profess that they are Christians” (Regula Non Bullata, XVI). Neither arguments nor disagreements – and this also applies to priests – neither arguments nor disagreements: at that time, as many people were setting out, heavily armed, Saint Francis pointed out that Christians set out armed only with their humble faith and concrete love. Meekness is important: if we live in the world according to the ways of God, we will become channels of his presence; otherwise, we will not bear fruit.
Second: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (v. 9). The Christian promotes peace, starting with the community where he or she lives. In the Book of Revelation, among the communities that Jesus himself addresses, there is one, namely Philadelphia, that I think bears a likeness to you. It is a Church which, unlike almost all the others, the Lord does not reproach for anything. Indeed, that Church kept Jesus’ word without renouncing his name and persevered, went forward, even in the midst of difficulties. There is also a significant detail: the name Philadelphia means brotherly love. Fraternal love. Thus a Church which perseveres in Jesus’ word and fraternal love is pleasing to the Lord and bears fruit. I ask for you the grace to preserve peace, unity, to take care of each other, with that beautiful fraternity in which there are no first or second class Christians.