WelCom November 2022
Pope Francis’ trip to Bahrain this month blends three of his top priorities as Pope: ministering to a tiny Catholic community; promoting dialogue with the Muslim world; and fostering relations with other Christian communities.
The November 3–6 visit marks Francis’ second trip to the Gulf, his second to a majority Muslim nation in as many months and his second to participate in an interfaith gathering sponsored by someone other than the Vatican to promote dialogue among people of different faiths.
Just as he did in Kazakhstan in September, when Pope Francis participated in an interfaith peace conference, the 85-year-old pope is set to close out the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.
In doing so, he will become the first pope to visit Bahrain. Pope Francis’ landmark visit to Abu Dhabi in 2019 made him the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula.
On the sidelines of the conference, Francis plans to meet again with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the seat of Sunni learning in Cairo, as well as the Muslim council of elders.
In 2019, Francis and al-Tayyeb signed a document in Abu Dhabi pledging Catholic-Muslim cooperation to work for peace, a pact endorsed by Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa as well as other Muslim leaders.
Bahrain is home to the Gulf’s first Catholic Church, the Sacred Heart Church located in the capital Manama, as well as its biggest one, Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral, which opened last year in Awali.
Source: AP News