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In Bahrain, Pope Francis on a diplomatic mission

In Bahrain, Pope Francis on a diplomatic mission

No sovereign pontiff had ever been there earlier than him. For his 39e an apostolic journey since his appointment in 2013, Pope Francis has chosen Bahrain, an archipelago of lower than two million inhabitants positioned in a area that has hardly been visited by the Vatican. The Arabian Peninsula has acquired just one papal go to thus far in 2019, when Francis already visited the United Arab Emirates.

This time, it’s on the invitation of the native sovereign, King Hamad Ben Issa Al Khalifa, that the pope is touring from November 3 to six to Bahrain, a rustic with a Shiite majority however whose leaders are Sunnis. On Friday, November 4, he’s to ship the closing speech of the Bahrain Discussion board for Dialogue “East and West for human coexistence”. An occasion which ought to carry collectively spiritual dignitaries from a number of international locations, together with Ahmed Al-Tayeb, grand imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Egypt, an establishment which, within the absence of getting political management within the Muslim world, can boast of a sure mental authority.

The presence of this key persona, whom the pontiff has already met on a number of events and to whom he’s mentioned to be shut, moreover serves the official goal of the journey: to insist on the significance of interreligious dialogue. The pope thus needs to proceed the efforts of discussions with the Muslims and their numerous authorities, on the coronary heart of a number of of his journeys in recent times. Along with a gathering with the monarch and native dignitaries, he must also have a personal assembly with Mr. Al-Tayeb, following which he’ll ship a speech earlier than the group based by the latter in 2014: the Muslim Council of Elders, whose the acknowledged ambition is to “promote cooperation between people”.

Eminently political dialogue

The pope will then go to the Cathedral of Our Woman of Arabia, the biggest church on the peninsula, the place he’ll provide an ecumenical prayer for peace earlier than celebrating a mass the following day within the 24,000 Bahrain Nationwide Stadium. squares.

As a result of on this small kingdom of the Gulf reside right this moment some 140,000 Christians, together with 80,000 Catholics, based on the most recent censuses by the Help to the Church in Want (AED) basis. Past, it’s also almost 1.6 million Christians that the sovereign pontiff needs to succeed in all through the peninsula. Christian Arabs for some, however above all immigrant employees for probably the most half, from Asian international locations such because the Philippines, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. Whereas they aren’t strictly talking persecuted for his or her worship, at the least in Bahrain, says the ACN, a lot of them discover themselves in probably the most precarious financial and private conditions, notably because the Covid-19 pandemic and the following financial and political crises world wide.

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