VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis will travel to Bahrain in November to push his message of dialogue with the Muslim world, the first pope to visit the country, the Vatican said Wednesday.
Bahrain is home to the first Catholic church in the Gulf, located in the capital Manama, as well as the largest, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia, which opened last year in the desert town of Awali.
Pope Francis plans to visit both cities during the visit from November 3 to 6. The Vatican said he will participate in a conference called “Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.”
Francis, 85, has made dialogue with the Muslim world a hallmark of his papacy. He recently returned from a visit to Muslim-majority Kazakhstan, where he participated in an interfaith summit.
In 2019, Francis became the first pope to visit the Gulf with a trip to Abu Dhabi. There he signed a landmark document with the chief imam of al-Azhar in Cairo, the seat of Sunni learning, promising Catholic-Muslim cooperation to work for peace.