Catholics travel from Saudi Arabia to attend Pope Francis’ mass in Bahrain | Tech US News

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A family awaits the arrival of Pope Francis at the Bahrain National Stadium on November 5, 2022. Alexey Gotovsky/EWTN

Christians form a small minority in Bahrain. Although more than 70% of Bahrain’s total population of 1.5 million is Muslim, there are about 161,000 Catholics living in the country, according to 2020 Vatican statistics. The country is home to two Catholic churches and 20 Catholic priests.

Pope Francis described Bahrain as “a living image of coexistence in diversity” and “an image of our world, increasingly marked by the constant migration of peoples and by a pluralism of ideas, customs and traditions”.

He added: “So it is important to accept Jesus’ challenge: ‘If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not tax collectors do the same?'”

At the end of the mass, Bishop Paul Hinder, apostolic administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of North Arabia, thanked Pope Francis for his “pastoral care for a small Church in a small country”.

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The bishop said: “Like your patron Saint Francis of Assisi, you are not afraid to build bridges with the Muslim world and to show your fraternal closeness to all people of good will regardless of their cultural background and religious belief.”

“We, the Christians of the Near East, those of ancient Eastern tradition and those who as emigrants live temporarily in this part of the world, try to apply the invitation of St. Francis to his brothers to “live spiritually among the Muslims… not to participate in arguments and [simply] to recognize it [we] they are Christians’”.

Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the Catholics who traveled from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region to attend the mass. He said: “I bring today the affection and closeness of the universal Church, which looks at you and embraces you, which loves you and encourages you.”

“May the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Arabia, accompany you on your journey and keep you constantly in love with everyone.”

Alexey Gotovsky contributed to this report.

Courtney Mares

Courtney Mares is a correspondent in Rome for the Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported for news agencies on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.

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