Pope Francis celebrated a mass in a stadium in the town of Riffa, Bahrain, on Saturday. In fact, in an area where Catholics are almost entirely migrants, mainly from the Philippines and India, who have come to work in Bahrain, mainly in the service sector and in refineries.
In his homily, Pope Francis called for a rejection of the logic of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" in order to "put an end to the spiral of revenge" during a Mass attended by some 30,000 people.
The Gulf country is home to some 80,000 Catholics who are fervently following the papal visit. Although parishioners from neighbouring countries such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar also came to Bahrain. "To you who have come to this celebration from the four countries of the Apostolic Vicariate of North Arabia and other countries of the Gulf, today I bring you affection and the closeness of the universal Church," Pope Francis said, according to Vatican News.
"Dear friends, I would like to thank you for your serene and joyful witness of fraternity, in order to be in this land a seed of love and peace. This is the challenge that the Gospel gives every day to our Christian communities, to each one of us," the Pope said in his homily delivered in Spanish, as reported by various news agencies such as EFE and Europa Press.
The Pope's trip is aimed at continuing to strengthen ties between Christianity and Islam in a clear path of human fraternity opened wide when Pope Francis himself visited Abu Dhabi to seal the Document for Human Fraternity with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, in February 2019.
"This land is precisely a living image of living together in diversity, of our world increasingly marked by the permanent migration of peoples and of the pluralism of ideas, customs and traditions," the Pope explained in his homily in Bahrain.
Those attending the mass showed their joy and demonstrated their faith. "We are happy in Bahrain, especially today with the Pope's visit," many said, as reported by EFE news agency.
Despite his knee problems, the Pope wanted to greet the faithful and made the traditional tour of the stadium in the popemobile to the cheers of the faithful who shouted "Long live the Pope" and "Pope we love you".
There are only two churches in Bahrain, a small church of the Sacred Heart, the first in the country built in 1939, and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia, which Francis visited on Friday, inaugurated in December last year with a capacity for almost 3,000 people, but in the middle of the desert and not accessible to all.
Los cristianos no podemos dar verdadero testimonio del Dios del amor si no estamos unidos entre nosotros como Él quiere; y no podemos estar unidos sin abrirnos al testimonio, en nombre del Espíritu que quiere llegar a todos. #ViajeApostólico #UnidadDeLosCristianos— Papa Francisco (@Pontifex_es) November 4, 2022
Pope Francis made reference to the difficult times we are living through now with tragedies such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine or the difficult global food and economic crisis. The Pope said that God "suffers as we observe in our day, in so many parts of the world, forms of exercising power which are nourished by abuse and violence, which seek to increase their own space by restricting that of others, imposing their domination, limiting fundamental freedoms and oppressing the weak". Pope Francis insisted that in the face of this situation God asks "that we remain always, faithfully, in love, in spite of everything, even in the face of evil and the enemy" and that "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" be rejected. Pope Francis called for unity and fraternity.
Pope Francis concluded the day on Saturday with a visit to Sacred Heart College, meeting with around 800 young people of various religions.