Pope Francis is set to make an Apostolic Visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain on 3-6 November 2022, to encourage the country’s small Catholic flock and to attend the “Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence”.
Ahead of his departure, the Holy See Press Office released the programme for the papal visit to the Middle East country, along with the logo and motto.
The Bahrain Forum for Dialogue will also see the participation of Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Al-Sharif.
The Pope and the Sheikh met last month in Kazakhstan for the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
Over 200 other religious leaders from various parts of the globe are also scheduled to attend the forum, held on 3-4 November.
Pope Francis was formally invited to visit Bahrain and attend the Forum by King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.
According to the programme, the Pope departs Rome’s Fiumicino Airport at 9:30 AM on Thursday, 3 October, and lands in the central Bahrain city of Awali at the Sakhir Air Base at around 4:45 PM (GMT+3).
He will then make a courtesy visit to King Hamad at the Sakhir Royal Palace and meet with Bahrain’s authorities, civil society, and diplomatic corps.
On Friday morning, the Pope will attend the closing session of the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue. Later, in the afternoon, he will meet privately with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, then hold an audience with the members of the Muslim Council of Elders (of which Sheikh Ahmed is the Chairman).
Afterwards, Pope Francis turns his attention to Christians living in Bahrain, as he holds an ecumenical meeting and prayer for peace in the Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral in Awali.
On Saturday, the Holy Father celebrates Mass in the Bahrain National Stadium in the morning for the country’s Catholic population, which numbers around 161,000 faithful.
He holds a meeting with young people at the Sacred Heart School in the afternoon.
The Pope wraps up his Apostolic Visit on Sunday morning with a prayer meeting with local Bishops, priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, and pastoral workers at the Sacred Heart Church in Manama. The papal plane then takes the Pope and his entourage back to Rome for an arrival at Fiumicino Airport around 5 PM.
The motto for the Apostolic Journey to Bahrain is “Peace on earth to people of goodwill”, which is taken from the Gospel of Luke, 2:14.
The visit’s logo consists of the flags of the Holy See and the Kingdom of Bahrain, which are represented in stylized form as two hands open towards God.
According to the Holy See Press Office, the logo symbolizes “the commitment of peoples and nations to encounter each other free from prejudice and in a spirit of openness as brothers and sisters”.
An olive branch extending upwards from the hands symbolizes peace, “the fruit of fraternal encounter”.
The words “Pope Francis” appear below the symbol in the color blue, to show that the Visit is entrusted to “Our Lady of Arabia”, the patroness of the Cathedral, which was a gift of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the local Catholic Church. — Vatican News