Pope Francis in Bahrain

Pope Francis in Bahrain

Dialogue, Encounter, Journey


From 3-6 November 2022, Pope Francis made an historic visit to Bahrain, the first time ever a pope visited this country. He summarised the purpose of his visit as “dialogue, encounter and journey”.

Pope Francis witnessed to these themes in the various meetings he held, with civic authorities, with religious leaders, with Muslim elders, in ecumenical prayer with other Christians, in a Eucharist with Catholics, and in a meeting with youth, and elaborated on these themes in his various addresses.

He commended the religious diversity of Bahrain, with ancient traditions of encounter between people, augmented by many migrant workers contributing to the productivity of the country. He pleaded for respect for the inherent dignity of every person, free from all forms of discrimination. He spoke up for the rights of workers everywhere. He upheld the right to life, even for those being punished.

He spoke out repeatedly against conflict, violence and war, condemning the “childish” behaviour of potentates who foster ancient animosities, ambitions and divisions, causing immense suffering to many people.  He spoke up on behalf of true religious freedom, recognition of women, protection of children’s fundamental rights, and the concept of full, equal, and inclusive citizenship. He highlighted the role and responsibility of religious leaders to be artisans of peace, not just in words, but in concrete action, especially in confronting together the many challenges of our time. He called for solidarity with the poor, the marginalised, and the exploited earth.

Below are excerpts from two of his speeches:

Dear friends, let us pursue this path; let us open our hearts to our brothers and sisters; let us press forward on the journey towards greater knowledge and understanding of one another. Let us strengthen the bonds between us, without duplicity or fear, in the name of the Creator who has put us together in this world as guardians of our brothers and sisters. (Address to Bahrain Forum)

So let us encounter one another for the sake of humanity and in the name of the One who loves humanity, the One whose name is peace. Let us promote concrete initiatives to ensure that the journey of the great religions will be ever more effective and ongoing, a conscience of peace for our world! (Address to Bahrain Forum)

God is the source of peace. May he enable us to be channels of his peace everywhere! Here, in your presence, I wish to state once more that the God of peace never brings about war, never incites hatred, never supports violence. We, who believe in him, are called to promote peace with tools of peace, such as encounter, patient negotiations and dialogue, which is the oxygen of peaceful coexistence. (Address to Muslim Council of Elders)

I believe that increasingly we need to encounter one another, to get to know and to esteem one another, to put reality ahead of ideas and people ahead of opinions, openness to heaven ahead of differences on earth. We need to put a future of fraternity ahead of a past of antagonism, overcoming historical prejudices and misunderstandings in the name of the One who is the source of peace. Indeed, how can believers of different religions and cultures live side-by-side, accept and esteem one another if we remain distant and detached? Let us be guided by the saying of Imam Ali: “People are of two types: they are either brothers and sisters in religion or fellow men and women in humanity”, and so feel called to care for all those whom the divine plan has placed alongside us in the world. (Address to Muslim Council of Elders)

Links to Speeches

For Address to Civic Authorities see: https://bit.ly/3NYulNd.

For Address to Bahrain Forum for Dialogue see: https://bit.ly/3WR29j7

For Address to the Muslim Council of Elders see: https://bit.ly/3hAKmNb

For Address to the Ecumenical Meeting see: https://bit.ly/3TmmJ8c

For Homily at Mass in Bahrain National Stadium see: https://bit.ly/3UtUgyE

For Address to Youth see: https://bit.ly/3Uv4oae

For Address to Bishops, Priests, Religious see: https://bit.ly/3Tv7byZ

For an excellent summary of Pope Francis’ visit to Bahrain see Anthony Spadaro’s article, “Against ‘Isolated Thinking’, Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Bahrain”https://www.laciviltacattolica.com/against-isolated-thinking-francis-apostolic-journey-to-bahrain/