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Pope describes his presence in Bahrain as "a Sower of peace"

Pope Francis addresses the authorities, members of civil society and diplomatic corps (Screenshot and cropped from Vatican News Video)

Pope Francis described his presence on the land of the Kingdom of Bahrain as “a Sower of peace” in his address to authorities, members of civil society, and the diplomatic corps.

“I am here, in this land of the Tree of Life, as a Sower of peace, to experience these days of encounter and to take part in a Forum of dialogue between East and West for the sake of peaceful co-existence,” he said.

After a courtesy visit to the King of Bahrain in the Sakhir Royal Palace, Pope Francis addressed authorities, members of civil society, and the diplomatic corps.

He thanked the organizers of the Conferences promoted by the Kingdom of Bahrain, which stress in particular “the themes of respect, tolerance, and religious freedom.”

The Pope encouraged these themes in Bahrain’s constitution are the commitments to be put into practice so that religious freedom will be complete and not limited to freedom of worship.

He particularly highlighted the right to life, even for criminals, “whose lives should not be taken.”

Pope Francis described Bahrain as a place of encounter between different peoples,” a land where “ancient and modern converge; tradition and progress mix; and above all, people from different backgrounds create a distinctive mosaic of life.”

Over 4500 years Bahrain “shines forth in its ethnic and cultural diversity, and the peaceful co-existence and the traditional hospitality of its people.”

The Pope pointed out that this diversity bears witness to the ability and necessity of living together in the world, which has grown into a global village but in many ways still lacks the “spirit of a village,” which is expressed in “hospitality, concern for others, and a sense of fraternity.”

An approximately 400 years-old lone mesquite tree that stands in the desert atop a sandy hill near the highest point in Bahrain is known as the Sharajat-al-Hayat or Tree of Life. The tree’s source of water is a mystery and the fact that it has thrived for so long has made it something of a mystical legend in Bahrain. The 10-metre-tall tree has continued to grow despite the extreme temperatures and lack of any apparent water source for miles around.

Looking at the image of the Tree of Life, the Pope invited his listeners to bring “the waters of fraternity” to “the parched deserts of human co-existence,” and to work together towards that end.

The image of “the Tree of Life,” is an “emblem of vitality” in the country. The “majestic acacia” has survived in a “desert area with very little rainfall thanks to its deep roots.”

Pope Francis lamented the increase in “lethal actions and threats,” as well as the “monstrous and senseless reality of war, which everywhere sows destruction and crushes hope.”

Every war, he said, “brings in its wake the death of truth.”

Recalling the “forgotten war” in Yemen, the Pope said, “like every war, issues not in victory, but only in bitter defeat for everyone.”

“I beg: Let there be an end to the clash of weapons! Let us be committed, everywhere and concretely, to building peace.”

Pope Francis concluded his address by quoting the Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration, which highlights the role of religious faith in building a foundation of peace.

“I am here today as a believer, as a Christian, as a man, and as a pilgrim of peace,” the Pope said, “because today, more than ever, we are called, everywhere, to commit ourselves seriously to peacemaking.”  - with inputs from Vatican News


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