The complex’s Ahmed Al-Tayeb Mosque, which held inaugural Friday prayers on Feb. 17, is named for the current Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque and University.
The Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue is named for the medieval Jewish philosopher also known as Maimonides. A Jewish congregation dedicated that worship space earlier on Sunday.
The complex has a welcome center that was inaugurated on Feb. 16. The welcome center aims to offer programs hosting scholars and thought leaders from around the world. It aims to help visitors explore and understand the Abrahamic faiths and to provide a space for religious communities from the UAE and around the world to practice their faiths.
“Our vision is for people to come together in peace, diverse in our faiths, yet common in our humanity,” the Abrahamic Family House said on its website. “Our mission is to bridge our common humanity through the exchange of knowledge, dialogue, and the practice of faith. Our values are peaceful coexistence, curiosity, and the centrality of human fraternity.”
The St. Francis of Assisi Church will be officially consecrated at a later date, allowing the Catholic sacraments to be celebrated there.
At Sunday’s prayer service, Cardinal Fitzgerald reflected on a reading from the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 59:7) about God’s house of prayer.
“You will have noticed that the prophet says it is to be ‘a house of prayer for all the peoples,’ and I am sure that this will be so, for Christian worship takes us out of ourselves,” the cardinal said. “Worship first leads us to praise God, who is worthy of all praise, and to thank the God of Bounty who has given us so many gifts. But worship opens us up to others, instilling in us ‘a care for justice,’ encouraging us to act with integrity.
“We cannot truly pray to God without remembering the other members of the Abrahamic family, and indeed of the human family,” the cardinal said.
Bishop Martinelli added: “May prayers of peace, reconciliation, and benevolence always rise to heaven from this place of worship … May the memory of Christ Jesus, whom we consider the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, son of the Most High and redeemer of the world, be a blessing for all. May the Gospel be the source of commitment to peace and justice and contribute to the progress of people and the joy of all.”
Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, a Coptic Catholic priest who is a member of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, delivered a welcome to attendees. Others present included Bishop Paul Hinder, the apostolic vicar emeritus of Southern Arabia, and Monsignor Kryspin Dubiel, the charge d’affaires of the Vatican’s diplomatic mission to the UAE.
Cardinal Fizgerald cited St. Paul’s call to remember in prayer the political authorities and others who are responsible for our well-being.
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“I think it is only right to thank God for the leaders of this country who have welcomed the building of this Abrahamic Family House and who have welcomed us all here,” he said. “It is not easy for political leaders in our times when we see so much violence and conflict. We pray that they may continue to lead us on the path of reconciliation, justice, and peace.”
He also cited the prayer service’s reading from the Gospel, the Canticle of Zechariah, a blessing on the infant John the Baptist.
“What he wants is for us all to be able to serve the Lord ‘in holiness and virtue in his presence, all our days,’” the cardinal said. “The opening of the Abrahamic Family House is naturally not just for us who are present today. This space is also for those who will come after us, for all time. As we give thanks to God for its inauguration, let us pray also that it may continue to serve all peoples, promoting justice, reconciliation, and peace.”
Commenting on the Abrahamic Family House’s opening, the UAE’s President Sheikh Mohamed said that the country has “a proud history of people from diverse communities working together to create new possibilities.”
“[W]e remain committed to harnessing the power of mutual respect, understanding, and diversity to achieve shared progress,” he said on Twitter Feb. 16.
Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, was present at the complex’s Feb. 16 inauguration. According to Emirates News Agency, the cardinal said the Abrahamic Family House is “a concrete example for people of different religions, cultures, traditions, and beliefs to return to the essential: love of neighbor.”