Pope Francis boards the papal plane to travel to Bahrain, at Fiumicino International Airport Pope Francis boards the papal plane to travel to Bahrain, at Fiumicino International Airport 

Pope Francis sets off on Apostolic Journey to Bahrain

Pope Francis departs Rome for the Kingdom of Bahrain on his 39th Apostolic Journey abroad, where he will meet with local Christians and encourage interreligious dialogue.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis set off on Thursday for his Apostolic Journey to the Kingdom of Bahrain, marking his 39th Apostolic Journey abroad and the 58th country he has visited as Pope.

The Holy Father flew out of Rome on an ITA Airways flight on his way to the Middle Eastern Gulf nation for his November 3-6 visit, with the papal flight taking off at approximately 9:45 AM Rome time. He is expected to land in Awali about 4:45 PM local time (2:45 PM Rome time).

The Pope accepted the invitation to visit the country extended by the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and by the local Church. During his visit, he will participate in the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue and bring his closeness to the country's small Catholic flock.

Meeting with refugee families

Before leaving for the airport on Thursday morning, Pope Francis met with three Ukrainian refugee families hosted by Italian families at Casa Santa Marta.

One of them is the wife of an Orthodox priest, along with her two children aged 18 and 14, from the Kropyvnytskyi region, 150 km from Mykolaiv. Her husband and adult son have remained behind in Ukraine. The second family is a 30-year-old mother with two daughters aged 4 and 7, who fled the partially occupied city and region of Zaporizhzhia; while the third family is a 53-year-old woman with a severely disabled 13-year-old son and a 73-year-old mother from Kyiv.

The refugee families were accompanied by the papal almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski.

'An interesting trip'

Due to knee pain, the Pope did not make the usual rounds among the journalists on the papal flight, but instead asked them to come up for a greeting. One by one the reporters and cameramen accompanying him on the trip then went to greet the Pontiff, who thanked them for their company and work.

The Apostolic Visit to Bahrain, Francis added, is "an interesting trip" from which "good news" can emerge.

Opportunity to promote fraternity and peace

During his All Saints Day Angelus address on 1 November, the Pope expressed his hope that “every meeting and event might be a fruitful opportunity to promote, in the name of God, the cause of fraternity and peace."

In an interview with Vatican Media, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the Pope’s Apostolic Journey is a sign of hope and dialogue in a tragic moment in history.

Cardinal Parolin stressed that "in a world characterized by tensions, oppositions, and conflicts,” the Pope's visit and the events in Bahrain in which he will participate are "a message of unity, cohesion, and peace."

Updated by Vatican News staff, 12:25 pm. 

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03 November 2022, 09:50