Pope in Bahrain - Day Two: An oasis in the desert
By Devin Watkins – Manama, Bahrain
“Desert” is a term that keeps coming up in Pope Francis’ speeches in the Middle Eastern Kingdom of Bahrain.
He hasn’t been talking only about the lack of water in barren landscapes.
The Pope has employed the image of the desert to highlight the unenviable position we humans have placed ourselves: countless wars and conflicts, isolationist mentalities, and environmental destruction.
Overview of the Pope’s second day in Bahrain
Pope Francis held three public encounters on Friday, as well as two private ones.
He attended the closing session of the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue with over 200 religious leaders in the morning, then met in the afternoon with the Muslim Council of Elders and later attended an ecumenical prayer meeting with young Christians in Bahrain.
Of the two private encounters, one was with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, for a brief, brotherly exchange.
He also met privately with one of the leaders of the Islamic world, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb.
Pope Francis thanked him for his words at the closing of the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue, saying Al-Tayyeb was “courageous” to call for dialogue among Muslims.
Watering the deserts of human coexistence
Through the day, the Pope has contrasted the image of the “parched deserts of human coexistence” with our duty to irrigate these existential realities with the “water of fraternity”.
Whether speaking to the King of Bahrain or religious leaders or local Christians, Pope Francis has held out the possibility for humanity to create an oasis in the desert.
Such a sanctuary should not be enclosed within the walls of a select group, he suggests, but must rather fill all corners of the earth.
And each person—especially people of faith—has the duty to water that oasis with our daily actions on behalf of human fraternity.
The goal is to allow God to guide our paths toward peace on this earth and the “fullness of communion in God”.
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