Pope's upcoming visit to Bahrain serves an ex officio consolidation of interfaith harmony, tolerance

Submitted by munir on Sat, 10/08/2022 - 20:48

At last Pope Francis' visit to Bahrain is in the offing. There have recently been speculations about this visit by various analysts trying to predict its outcome and importance in the field of consolidating common living and peace among peoples of different faiths and affiliations.


The Holy See Press Office has announced that Pope Francis' visit to Bahrain will take place on November 3-6, 2022. The visit will culminate in visiting Manama and Awali marking the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue "East and West for Human Coexistence.” The forum will have its prominence whereby hosting such an event, the Kingdom of Bahrain seeks to reiterate its commitment to tolerance and respect for all religions, as well as seeks to find answers and pathways to address pressing problems.


This will be a second visit by the Pope to the Arabian Peninsula as he earlier visited the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, on 4 February 2019 during which he and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, signed the "Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together´. The grand imam of al-Azhar, is also traveling to Bahrain to participate in the forum with Pope Francis bearing in mind that the religious leaders most recently met in September at an interreligious summit in Kazakhstan. The Pope is scheduled to meet privately with el-Tayeb before speaking to members of the Muslim Council of Elders at the mosque of Sakhir Royal Palace.


Pope Francis has given great importance to meetings and encounters with those of different beliefs and has taken several courageous steps to encounter others with all the respective differences. He has never shied away from dialogue and from trying to find common pathways to advance dialogue with the others. This visit serves as a continuation to the Pope's dialogue with the Muslim world. It is important as he tirelessly pursues the path of dialogue because it is the only open pathway that blocks the option of resorting to violence which ultimately targets the innocent.


Another outstanding importance of the visit lies in continuing the dialogue with Sunni Islam in Bahrain bearing in mind that Pope had earlier visited Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the Holy Land, and Iraq with the hope of setting the base for fruitful interfaith dialogue in the East that would blossom fruitful peace, cooperation, and common living among its various components.

During the visit, the Pope will visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia which was inaugurated on December 10, 2021. This cathedral was the dream of visionary Bishop Camillo Ballin who died April 12, 2020, after spending about 50 years in Arab countries. Bishop Ballin was behind this ambitious construction of a worship building that can hold some 2,300 people. It is located about 12 miles from the Bahraini capital, Manama.


The cathedral stands on 9,000 square meters of land in Awali, granted by King Hamad Ibn Isa al-Khalifa. With the decision to build this cathedral, it is hoped that this cathedral will further boost common living with the people of different faiths who hold their hands high pleading the Almighty Lord to entrench everlasting peace in the region and the entire world. This cathedral will outshine the whole region with the divine message of peace which is the cardinal aim of the people of the East who have been pummeled for years by the tsunami of terrorism, persecution, forced displacement as well the ramifications of poverty, employment, hunger, and disease.


The official logo of the papal visit unites the flags of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Holy See in the form of raised hands together with the Creator, in an appeal for peace. The olive branch in the center symbolizes the fruit of peace granted by the Almighty God.


With the Pope's unstinting efforts to quench the raging fire of wars and violence, it is hoped that his calls for attaining global peace and avoiding any attempt to use nuclear weapons in conflicts will not fall on deaf ears. Pope Francis, you are welcome in Bahrain. You are also in the hearts and minds of people who seek your wisdom and perspicacity in the search for global peace. Your prayers for the entrenchment of peace in the Ukraine-Russia conflict will definitely be answered by the Prince of Peace. Eyes are also focusing on undertaking a visit to bleeding Lebanon in the hope that such an expected visit will restore Lebanon back on the track of safety and salvation. Further hopes  seek your prayers for the termination of violence that targets Christian institutions, clergymen, and nuns in Africa so that all people can glorify the Lord saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

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By Munir Bayouk/ en.abouna.org