VATICAN – Pope Francis in Bahrain from November 3 to 6


VATICAN – Pope Francis in Bahrain from November 3 to 6

Rome (Fid Agency cities of Manama and Awali on the occasion of the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.
The papal visit to Bahrain will take place less than a year after the delivery of the official letter of invitation sent to Pope Francis by King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa. The invitation letter was delivered to the Pope by Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, His Majesty’s advisor for diplomatic affairs, received on Thursday, November 25, 2021 at the Vatican by the Bishop of Rome and the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin (see Agenzia Fides 26/11/2021). During his visit to the Vatican, the Bahraini monarch’s envoy also conveyed to the pope the greetings and greetings expressed by King Hamad, as well as his appreciation “for the fundamental and leading role played by Pope Francis in the establishment and promotion of interreligious dialogue and understanding between different cultures and civilizations, as well as in the dissemination of the values ​​of human fraternity and coexistence among all”. On this occasion, through his envoy, the King of Bahrain also expressed to the Successor of Peter its full consent to the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyeb, Grand Imam of al Azhar.
The territory of the Kingdom of Bahrain consists of an archipelago of 33 islands near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. The nation, ruled by the al Khalifa royal family, was previously an emirate, which became a constitutional monarchy in 2002.
According to the subdivision of ecclesiastical circumscriptions of the Catholic Church, Bahrain is part of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, together with Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Bahrain established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1999. The first Catholic church erected in modern times in the Persian Gulf is that dedicated to the Sacred Heart and built in 1939 in the Bahraini capital Manama on land donated by the Emir of Bahrain.
In 2013 (see Fides 13/2/2013) the Catholic Church received as a gift from King Ahmad bin Isa another plot of 9 thousand square meters in the municipality of Awali, where the construction of the Catholic cathedral of the Kingdom of started in the spring of 2014, named after Our Lady of Arabia. The cathedral was consecrated on December 10, 2021 during a consecration liturgy presided over by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle. On this occasion, the Cardinal began his homily by thanking the Sovereign Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa on behalf of Pope Francis and the Catholic community of Bahrain “for having maintained the tradition of the royal family in the support offered to the Catholic Church , and for having donated the land on which this church stands” (see Fides, 12/10/2021). Our Lady of Bahrain Cathedral is currently the largest functioning church in the Arabian Peninsula. During the consecration liturgy, Cardinal Tagle also remembered with gratitude Bishop Camillo Ballin, whom he defined as a “great man and a great missionary”, who had initiated the project to build the church, and died in 2020 before seeing it completed. On the same day of the cathedral’s consecration liturgy, Cardinal Tagle himself delivered a letter from Pope Francis to King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa. During his meeting with Cardinal Tagle, King Hamad affirmed that the consecration of the new cathedral which has just taken place embodied “the civilization and the humanitarian role of Bahrain”, a kingdom which welcomes non-Muslim places of worship ” for many decades”, thus also demonstrating “the tolerance, love and respect of its people for all”.
The Catholic community present in Bahrain is mainly made up of immigrants who have come to the Kingdom to seek work. It is estimated that the Catholic community in Bahrain is made up of at least 80,000 baptized people, but in reality there is no reliable data regarding its numerical consistency. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 09/28/2022)

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