Pope Francis in Bahrain boosts Catholic-Muslim fraternity

AP - Hussein Malla

On his last day of his visit to the Persian Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain, Catholic leader Pope Francis on Saturday celebrates mass at the country’s national stadium in front of thousands. The pope also led a prayer meeting with local Catholics at the Sacred Heart School in Manama.

This is the first time the head of the Catholic Church has visited Bahrain and is Pope Francis’ second trip to a Gulf Arab nation.

On his 2019 trip to Abu Dhabi, the Catholic leader signed a document promoting Catholic-Muslim fraternity. This Bahrain visit has also been aimed at improving ties with the world of Islam.

Bahrain has a small Catholic community of 161,000 in a country of 1.5 million. Catholics are mainly Asian migrants, particularly from the Philippines and India, according to 2020 Vatican statistics.

Bahrain’s government has repeatedly been criticised for human rights abuses targeting migrant works, charges which the authorities in Bahrain deny.

Following his arrival on Thursday, Pope Francis called for an end to discrimination and human rights violations. It is vital that “fundamental human rights are not violated but promoted”, the pope said at the Sakhir Royal palace.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa also gave a speech at the Royal Palace. He said his country protected the freedom of all faiths, allowing believers to “perform their rituals and establish their places of worship”.

'Let us work together for peace'

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