ASIA/BAHRAIN - Christians in Bahrain: the Pope's visit consecrates the Kingdom as a place of coexistence and tolerance

Friday, 30 September 2022 middle east   local churches   oriental churches   dialogue   islam   fraternity  

Manama (Agenzia Fides) - The announced visit of Pope Francis to the Kingdom of Bahrain, scheduled for November 3-6, confirms and reinforces the choice of the Al Khalifa royal family, committed to raising the profile of the Kingdom as a place of dialogue, of tolerant welcome and peaceful coexistence between different identities and faith communities, in a world tormented by sectarian conflicts and "clash of civilizations". This is the context in which national media such as Al Ayyam Al Bahraini announce of forthcoming papal visit, collecting around this interpretation also the agreed opinions of well-known exponents of the local Christian communities.
According to Father Fayad Charbel, priest of the Sacred Heart Church in Manama, the papal visit to Bahrain will help show everyone that this country is a land "of dialogue and coexistence" in a world "full of conflicts and wars".
The priest Saba Haidousian, parish priest of the local Greek Orthodox community, highlights the importance of the papal visit for the Kingdom and for the entire Middle East, pointing out that King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has been calling for Bahrain to become a space of coexistence between the different communities of faith. The "East-West Dialogue Forum for Human Coexistence" (which is also the occasion of the visit of Pope Francis) will focus international attention on Bahrain, showing all the standards of "coexistence among the different" that characterize the life in the Kingdom. The meeting between Pope Francis and King Hamed - underlines Hani Aziz, pastor of the Evangelical Church in Manama - will also be an opportunity to send "a great message" for a Middle East "free from wars" that torment entire peoples and also prevent us from imagining a future of prosperity for all. Other comments underline the full freedom with which Christians in Bahrain can celebrate their liturgies and administer the sacraments.
The official logo of the papal visit (in the photo), according to the explanation displayed on the official website, 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. In the logo – refers the official explanation, focusing on a singular and eloquent detail - the words "Pope Francis" are colored blue "to indicate that the papal journey is entrusted to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, 'Our Lady of Arabia', patroness of the cathedral, which is a gift from the Kingdom of Bahrain to the country's Catholic Church". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 30/9/2022)