DANBURY, Connecticut, USA, Next week's visit to the United Arab Emirates by Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, represents an affirmation of the values of tolerance, moderation and encouraging dialogue between the Abrahamic religions, according to a prominent US-based pastor of the largely-Lebanese Maronite Church.

The Maronite Church, founded in the late 4th Century AD by St. Maron, is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Pope in Rome and the worldwide Catholic Church. Though concentrated in Lebanon, Maronites are a significant part in the Lebanese diaspora in the United States.

Speaking to the Emirates News Agency, WAM, Father Naji Jalil Kiwan, Pastor of the Maronite Mar Antonios (St. Anthonys) Church in Danbury, Connecticut, praised the wise policy of openness adopted by the UAE and its leadership on promoting harmony and understanding between the followers of different religions and cultures.

He added that the UAE's hosting of and participation in various programmes, forums and conferences of dialogue between all religions and doctrines, including next week's Global Conference for Human Fraternity and its hosting of Pope Francis were prominent proof of the way in which it has adopted a civilised humanitarian ideology. This seeks, he noted, to support establish the foundations of brotherliness and peaceful human coexistence between all peoples and religions throughout the world.

Father Kiwan expressed the hope that the visit to the UAE by Pope Francis and his participation with other religious leaders in the Global Conference for Human Fraternity will help to spread the values of tolerance, love, peace, harmony and cohesion between peoples so as to contribute to a better future for future generations.

Source: Emirates News Agency