Pope Francis to visit Bahrain in November

This will be only the second visit of the head of the Roman Catholic Church to the Arabian Gulf

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Pope Francis will travel to Bahrain for a three-day visit in November — an occasion that is expected to attract tens of thousands of Catholics.

The pontiff, 85, will visit the Arabian Gulf’s largest Roman Catholic church in the desert town of Awali and the capital Manama.

This will be the second visit by the head of the church to the Arabian Gulf after Pope Francis's historic visit to the UAE in 2019.

“Pope Francis will make the announced apostolic journey to Bahrain from November 3 to 6 this year, visiting the cities of Manama and Awali on the occasion of the 'Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence,” the Vatican said on Wednesday.

Details of Pope's visit to Bahrain

The pope's visit comes following an invitation from Bahrain’s King Hamad and the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, headed by Bishop Paul Hinder.

He said Pope Francis would celebrate a public Mass at the Bahrain National Stadium on Saturday, November 5 at 8am.

“The Catholics in Bahrain and from the other countries of the Vicariate of Northern Arabia are warmly invited to attend this extraordinary event,” Bishop Hinder said.

He said a registration system for the Holy Mass was being worked out with government officials.

Details will be published on the official Bahrain Papal Visit website.

The Pope will also address a conference on ‘East and West for Human Coexistence’ as part of the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue.

Bishop Hinder said the central theme of the visit centred on peace and goodwill.

“We pray that this visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, besides strengthening our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, may contribute to the increase of peace and understanding all over the world,” he said.

“Gathered together as a 'people of goodwill', may we all work in unison to build a brighter future for our common home and for the coming generations.”

Awali's tent-shaped Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia, which opened to worshippers in December last year, will be one of the focal points of Pope Francis's visit.

The cathedral can seat at least 2,300 people and was built on land donated by King Hamad in 2013 to the local Catholic community, which numbers about 80,000 people. It is about 20 kilometres south of Manama.

The pontiff's health has been of concern recently. A planned July trip to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo was postponed to next year after doctors advised Pope Francis that he needed treatment on his right knee.

He was in visible pain during a trip earlier this month to Kazakhstan for an interfaith conference.

Pope Francis has been using a wheelchair and cane and said that travelling was difficult because his strained knee ligaments had not healed.

In Kazakhstan, Pope Francis, along with the leaders of other religions, had called for an end to violence and bloodshed.

He spoke of the importance of coming together.

“In our day, every military conflict or hotspot of tension and confrontation will necessarily have a baneful domino effect and seriously compromise the system of international relations," he said.

Two years ago, more than 150,000 gathered for Mass in Abu Dhabi as Pope Francis blessed the congregation and sent out a message of peace.

Tens of thousands of people had queued up overnight at free transport centres across Dubai to travel to the capital and catch a glimpse of the Pope in February 2019.

The Document on Human Fraternity, signed by Pope Francis and Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar and chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, during the visit has been called historic. It aims to unite people in a spirit of respect and tolerance.

Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral opens in Bahrain - in pictures

Updated: September 30, 2022, 5:05 PM