The apostle of peace in the land of Arabia
Francis addressed the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue during his Apostolic Journey
to Bahrain, a conference on “East and West for Human Coexistence.” The Holy
Father stressed that “every encounter and every event can be a fruitful
opportunity to promote, in the name of God, the cause of fraternity and peace.”
The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, stated that the
Apostolic Journey was a sign of hope and dialogue amid a tragic historical
moment. In a “world marked by tensions, oppositions, and conflicts”, the Pope’s
visit and actions in Bahrain are “messages of unity, cohesion and peace”, he said.
Pope Francis commented on the “Tree of Life” (Shajarat-al-Hayat), the country’s
remarkable “emblem of vitality”. This beautiful acacia tree has thrived for
generations in a desert region. He also mentioned that Bahrain’s greatest
treasures are its ethnic and cultural diversity and its people’s peaceful
coexistence and traditional hospitality.
Bahrain is an archipelago of over thirty islands, and the name Bahrain means “two seas”.
Pope Francis said that “Tragically, the East and the West increasingly resemble
two opposite seas. However, we all intend to sail the same waters and to choose
the path of encounter rather than confrontation.” In the Bahrain Declaration,
he stressed that religious leaders must encourage and help our human family,
interdependent yet separate, to sail the sea together. He emphasised that
education is the path to liberation from legacies that run counter to the
spirit of fraternal solidarity that should characterise those who worship God
and love their neighbour.