- King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa invited the pope to come to the country
VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis intends to foster dialogue between Catholics and Muslims during his coming trip to Bahrain, and will launch a message of peace to the Arabian Gulf.
The Pope will be in Bahrain from Nov. 3 to Nov. 6. The trip will begin with a visit at the Sakhir Royal palace to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who invited him to come to the country.
This will be the tenth trip for Francis to a country with a Muslim majority and a tiny Catholic presence of nearly 80,000 out of a population of about 1.3 million.
“It will also be a ‘sign’ for Shiite Islam, in the framework of a strategy of rapprochement with different branches of the Muslim faith the Pope is following,” Fr Giuseppe Ciutti, an Italian priest who spent time in Iraq and studies the relationship between Islam and Catholicism, told Arab News.
Monsignor Paul Hinder, the apostolic administrator of the North Arabia apostolic region, which includes Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, said at a press conference that the Pope’s trip to Bahrain followed the path begun with the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Common Coexistence,” which Francis signed in February 2019 in Abu Dhabi together with Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of al Azhar, a figure of reference for Sunni Muslims.
Hinder believes that the Pope will carry out a “positive strategy” of rapprochement with the “different currents” of the Muslim faith and offer an invitation to continue along the path of dialogue with other religions.
Bahrain will be the 58th country visited during his pontificate by Pope Francis, and he will be the first pontiff in history to set foot there.
“It is an ancient land where different national, ethnic and religious groups coexist and therefore it is a precious step in the journey of fraternity the Pope has undertaken,” Bruni said.