Pope Francis to meet King Hamad and address religious leaders on Bahrain tour

Pontiff will also visit churches and a school and hold public Mass during four-day visit

Pope Francis kisses a child during a general audience at the Vatican.  Reuters
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Pope Francis will promote a message of peace and goodwill during his tour of Bahrain next month, during which he will meet national and religious leaders and visit churches and a local school.

A four-day itinerary released by the Vatican gives details of the Pope’s prayer meetings at the Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral, the largest Roman Catholic church in the Arabian Gulf, that opened last year.

The pontiff will also visit Sacred Heart Church, the Gulf’s first Roman Catholic church, which dates back to 1939.

On arrival in Bahrain on November 3, Pope Francis will visit Bahrain’s King Hamad at the Sakhir Royal Palace.

This will be followed by a welcome ceremony in the courtyard and a meeting with diplomats, government officials and members of the public, according to the Holy See press office.

The next day, Friday, November 4, the Pope will speak at the closing session of the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.

More than 200 global faith leaders and scholars are taking part in the conference and discussions will cover the role of religious heads in addressing global challenges and interfaith dialogue for world peace.

Faiths come together in spirit of harmony

After a private meeting with Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Pope Francis will address members of the Muslim Council of Elders, of which Dr Al Tayeb is the chairman.

He will next say a prayer for peace at the Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral at 5.45pm.

Tens of thousands of Catholics from across the world are expected to arrive in Bahrain to hear the Pope celebrate Mass the following day, Saturday, November 5, at 8.30am at the Bahrain National Stadium, in Riffa.

Pope Francis will meet young people that evening at a local school.

On the morning of Sunday, November 6, the Pope will address a prayer meeting with bishops, priests and church workers in the Sacred Heart Church in Manama, before he departs at noon for Rome.

The message of the papal visit to Bahrain is “peace on earth to people of goodwill” and the logo shows the flags of the Holy See and Bahrain cradling an olive branch, symbolising peace.

This emblem represents, “the commitment of people and nations to encounter each other free from prejudice and in a spirit of openness as brothers and sisters”, the Holy See press office said.

This will be the second visit by the head of the Catholic Church to the Arabian Gulf, after Pope Francis’s historic visit to the UAE in 2019.

Worshippers have said his visit will energise the faithful in the region and strengthen their faith.

In a recent video, the Pope spoke about a Church that is open to everyone and emphasised the importance of listening to — rather than just hearing — another person’s views.

“It means listening to each other in our diversity and opening doors to those outside the Church. It’s not about gathering opinions, nor holding a parliament,” Pope Francis said in the video posted this month.

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Updated: October 06, 2022, 2:13 PM