'Baba Francis': Children excited to be in presence of Pope Francis

Rashel Dsouza, 12, and Omer Ali, 9, were seated either side of the pontiff and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar at a meeting of the Muslim Council of Elders

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Two young children had front-row seats for a moment in history as Pope Francis held talks with the Muslim Council of Elders on Friday.

Rashel Dsouza, 12, and Omer Ali, 9, were seated either side of the pontiff and Prof Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, for the milestone meeting at a mosque at the Sakhir Royal Palace.

They read verses from the Bible and the Quran at the start of the gathering.

“I know who Baba Francis is," said Omar, using a term of endearment likening the pope to a warm, fatherly figure.

I’m excited to be here but I don’t know why he is here,” said Omer.

The young Egyptian boy recited verses from the Surah Yaseen and explained to The National what the scriptures meant.

“God is speaking to the people and says the ground you are living on is dead ground but you can grow and eat from it,” the child said.

“It shows how God provides for us so even from dead soil you can get more.”

Rashel from Mangalore, southern India, said she was honoured to be at the meeting.

“The Pope is like a living image of Jesus,” said the girl who read from the Book of Genesis about the creation of the world.

“I’m really happy. It’s a one time opportunity in my life.

“It’s really nice we are from different religions and we are spreading news about our religion.”

Rashel Dsouza, 12, who read from the Bible. Amy McConaghy / The National
Updated: November 05, 2022, 4:07 AM
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