Pope Francis Heads to Bahrain for 39th Apostolic Journey, Eyes ‘Interreligious Dialogue’

Pope Francis Heads to Bahrain for 39th Apostolic Journey, Eyes ‘Interreligious Dialogue’

Pope Francis boarded an ITA Airways plane on Thursday morning en route to the Kingdom of Bahrain for his 39th Apostolic Journey. The pope will be in Bahrain from Nov. 3-6, the 58th country he would have been to since he was elected the head of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics.

Details of the Papal Visit

Vatican News reported Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the country's Roman Catholic Church leadership invited the pope.

Pope Francis was expected to connect with the country's Catholic population, which makes up 4% of Bahrain's population. The pontiff also attended the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue during his visit. 

In a separate report, Vatican News said that the pope spoke out against 'war and narrow interests' at the end of the forum.

The closing ceremony was held at the Al-Fida' Square of Sakhir Royal Palace on Nov. 4, which coincided with Francis' first day into his Apostolic Journey.

He said during his address that religious leaders are duty-bound to help and encourage the '"wounded human family" and serve as 'good examples.' Francis also issued strong pleas for "true religious freedom."

The pope explained that religious coercion "is unworthy of the Almighty, since He has not handed the world over to slaves, but to free creatures, whom He fully respects."

The pope called on humanity to 'commit itself to ensure that creatures' freedom should reflect the Creator's sovereign freedom. He explained that "places of worship are always and everywhere protected and respected, and that prayer is favored and never hindered."

Francis likewise highlighted the need for interreligious dialogue.

"For it is not enough to say we are tolerant. We really have to make room for others, granting them rights and opportunities," the pontiff said.

Moreover, Francis underscored several "urgent educational priorities" on women's recognition, citizenship, and protection of children's fundamental rights.

Francis likewise thanked organizers for inviting him to the forum, whose theme, "East and West for Human Coexistence," highlighted cooperation between the two cultures.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa reportedly patronized the event.

Also Read: Pope Francis Calls Catholic Church in Asia 'Church of the Poor, Church of the Young'

'Connected, Yet Divided'

In his address, the pope pointed out a striking paradox occurring today.

Despite enjoying never-before-experienced connectedness brought by technology, Francis explained how humanity seems highly divided instead of united.

"It is a striking paradox that, while the majority of the world's population is united in facing the same difficulties, suffering from grave food, ecological and pandemic crises, as well as an increasingly scandalous global injustice, a few potentates are caught up in a resolute struggle for partisan interests, reviving obsolete rhetoric, redesigning spheres of influence and opposing blocs," Vatican News quoted Pope Francis saying.

The pontiff also explained that humanity is "witnessing a dramatic and childlike scenario," in which humans 'play with fire, missiles, bombs, and weapons' instead of "cultivating our surroundings."

He also highlights how people 'cover their common home with ashes and hatred.

"Such will be the bitter consequences if we continue to accentuate conflict instead of understanding, if we persist in stubbornly imposing our own models and despotic, imperialist, nationalist, and populist visions," the pope added.

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