Bishop Paolo Martinelli , the new Apostolic Vicar for Southern Arabia 

By Linda Bordoni

July 7 2022

Bishop Paolo Martinelli was installed as the new Apostolic Vicar for Southern Arabia on Saturday at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi. In his inaugural speech and then during his homily at the installation Mass he upheld the beauty of diversity and pledged to pursue interfaith harmony.

Bishop Martinelli, who was the auxiliary bishop in Milan for eight years, was appointed as Apostolic Vicar for Southern Arabia by Pope Francis after the resignation of 80-year-old Bishop Paul Hinder who was in service for 18 years and championed interfaith dialogue and harmony.

In his inaugural speech, Bishop Martinelli said it was an unexpected appointment and he looked forward to serving the people in this vicariate which he described as “so unlike my homeland, but which I find fascinating on so many levels.”

Expressing admiration for the work and wise counsel of Bishop Hinder, the new Apostolic Vicar said he will “try to follow his example” and place himself “completely at the disposal of God’s people in this land.”

Bishop Martinelli promised to continue to support the work carried out by parishes including pastoral activities and the running of Catholic schools.

He said he respects the rulers and authorities of the United Arab Emirates for promoting a spirit of respectful coexistence and tolerance.

“God has called all human beings to live together as brothers and sisters, even if they belong to different cultures, peoples and religions.”

He also spoke about the Document on Human Fraternity that was signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar in Abu Dhabi in 2019 and of his wish to promote interreligious dialogue.

Homily dedicated to joy and fraternity

Following his installment, Bishop Martinelli celebrated Holy Mass for his installation as Apostolic Vicar and delivered a homily in which he called on his flock to grow in Christian life “promoting the beauty of belonging to the one body of Christ, albeit made up of different cultures, spiritual traditions and liturgical rites.”

“The different gifts must never divide but unite us to be more fruitful: pluriformity in unity!”

The Bishop said that the people of God in Arabia represent a very important sign for the future of the Church spreading throughout the world. “Because only a diverse Church, composed of Christians from different countries and cultures can withstand such an epoch change.”

Before ending his homily with a reflection on Pascal Joy, Bishop Martinelli emphasized that “Human beings are truly “living people” when they welcome one another, when they overcome boundaries and divisions, as it was highlighted in the document of Abu Dhabi, signed by Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmad al-Tayyeb.”

“A more fraternal world is a more human world. A more human world gives glory to God, who has created humanity to live in peace and justice.”

Vatican News