Bishop Paul Hinder: Pope’s visit to Bahrain confirms his interest in Arabian Gulf

His Holiness Pope Francis will arrive in Bahrain on Thursday on an official visit at the invitation of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The papal visit to the Kingdom will run until Sunday.Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia, Bishop Paul Hinder has affirmed that the historic visit of HH Pope Francis to Bahrain confirms his interest in the Arabian Gulf region.In a statement to the Vatican News newspaper, the Bishop considered the “Pope’s Apostolic Journey as a visit to the Church in the entire Gulf region.”

“Around 80,000 Catholics live in Bahrain, most of whom are migrant workers,” he added.

Responding to a question about the purpose of the Pope’s historic visit to Bahrain in particular, Bishop Hinder said that the Government of Bahrain had always maintained a “good relationship” with various Churches and Christians.

While in Bahrain, “Pope Francis will find a multinational, multi-linguistic Church and a country with a culture that is very open to foreigners,” he said.

He also said that the 39th Apostolic Journey abroad by Pope Francis is the second to the region, following his visit to the United Arab Emirates in 2018 to support interfaith dialogue.

Bishop Hinder outlined two main purposes of the papal visit to Bahrain.

The first is “certainly to maintain and to deepen the interfaith dialogue with Muslims”, while the second is to “give encouragement to the flock of Catholics and the Christians in general, but especially Catholics who live in this special situation.”

Catholics from neighbouring countries will also be taking part in Pope Francis’ public events in Bahrain, he added.

The 80-year-old Bishop noted that as he is nearing retirement, he considers the papal visit as a sort of fulfilment of his service.

It is “a kind of culmination of my life here in Arabia,” he said.