Pope Francis Set To Become The First Pope In History To Visit Bahrain

<> on January 16, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. Pope Francis will visit venues across Leyte and Manila during his visit to the Philippines from January 15 - 19. The visit is expected to attract crowds in the millions as Filipino Catholics flock to catch a glimpse of the leader of the Catholic Church in the Philippines for the first time since 1995. The Pope will begin the tour in Manila, then travelling to Tacloban to visit areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan before returning to Manila to hold a mass at Rizal Park. The Philippines is the only Catholic majority nation in Asia with around 90 percent of the population professing the faith.

Pope Francis is an icon who gained fame for not just being the 266th Bishop of Rome but also for speaking out against inequality and persistently urging governments to reduce income inequality and aid the underprivileged. Francis was also known as the “People’s Pope,” according to Vox, because of his simple lifestyle and opposition to relocating into the papal palace. Though known to many as the Pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Francis is his papal name. Papal names are regal names taken by popes when they are appointed.

Pope Francis is no stranger to the Middle East as he visited Iraq before. in the next few days, he will become the first pope in history to visit Bahrain as UCA News reported. He will be in Bahrain from Nov. 3 to 6 and will visit the cities of Manama and Awali, where he will take part in the “Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.” This forum will feature Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Al-Sharif along with over 200 religious figures from around the world.

The Pope’s visit represents a precious step along the path of inter-religious dialogue, Mr. Bruni, The Director of the Holy See Press Office, pointed out. The main events of the visit will include a Holy Mass at the Bahrain National Stadium and a meeting with young people at the Sacred Heart School that’s located in Isa Town. Through these events, Pope Francis hopes to convey a message of unity, cohesion, and peace, as Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin stated.

In 2019, the Pope visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a historic trip where he signed a Muslim-Christian manifesto for peace. His trip there marked a new page in the history of relations between religions. The overwhelming majority of Emiratis are Muslim, but the country hosts a large expatriate population, some 1.2 million of whom are Christian according to CNN. There, Pope Francis spent three days in the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi, where he attended an interreligious conference with Jewish and Christian leaders.

Via CNN

He did not visit the UAE only though as he visited Iraq back in 2021. During that visit, Pope Francis met with political officials, then flew to Najaf, the holiest city for Shiites in Iraq. He then met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a 90-year-old Muslim cleric who remains almost completely out of public eye.

In Sept. 2020, Pope Francis declared the fourth of Sept. as a day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon. This came one month after the tragic Beirut blast. The Pope didn’t travel to Lebanon that year, but he urged the global community, regardless of anyone’s religion, to stand in solidarity with Lebanon and join in this initiative in whatever ways they can support the nation. The pope was set to travel to Lebanon back in June 2022, but the trip was canceled due to health reasons.

Pope Francis’ trips to the Middle East made an impact because he spoke to people of various religions, all while stressing that the only thing we should strive for in our communities is a sense of togetherness and acceptance.

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