Pope, in Bahrain, condemns rearmament pushing world to ‘precipice’

AWALI, Bahrain, Nov 4 (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Friday called on religious leaders to help bring the world back “from the brink of a narrow abyss” and oppose a new Cold War-era globe-spanning new arsenal. of influence.

Francis spoke on his first full day in Bahrain as he closed an East-West dialogue forum promoted by the Gulf state’s king, which allows Christians to practice their faith publicly in churches.

The visit continues the Pope’s policy of improving relations with the Muslim world, following his historic visit to Abu Dhabi in 2019, the first by a pope in the Arabian Peninsula. Since his election in 2013, he has visited around 10 Muslim-majority states.

Francis, who is confined to a wheelchair and crutches due to knee problems, spoke about the role of religion in peace, disarmament and social justice.

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“After two terrible world wars, after a cold war that kept the world in a state of anxiety for decades, with devastating conflicts in all corners of the world, amid accusations, threats and condemnations, we continue to bring ourselves to the brink of danger. A narrow gap, we do not want to fall.” he said in the shining marble courtyard of the royal palace.

Apparently referring to Ukraine, Francis condemned the situation where “a few authorities are determined to fight for the interests of parties, revive old rhetoric, re-design spheres of influence and create opposing blocs.”

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RELIGION WILL NOT BRING BACK WAR

Francis, who has advocated a total ban on nuclear weapons and frequently condemned the global arms trade, said religious leaders could not support war, referring to Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, a pope who enthusiastically supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. previously directly criticized.

Speaking before the Pope, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa called for an end to the war between Russia and Ukraine and for “serious dialogue for the good of all humanity”.

The Pope followed the call by the third speaker, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque and University, who signed the 2019 “Brotherhood of Man” document, an important declaration on the role of religion in the pursuit of peace. .

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Francis did not name any country but condemned the financing of terrorism.

On Friday afternoon, he was due to address Bahrain’s Muslim Elders’ Council, followed by worship at the Our Lady of Arabia Mosque, one of two mosques serving Bahrain’s roughly 160,000 Catholics.

On his arrival on Thursday, Francis spoke out against the death penalty in Bahrain, where the Shiite Muslim opposition accused the Sunni monarchy of overseeing human rights abuses, and families of death row inmates appealed to the cleric for help.

Reporting by Philip Pullela; Edited by John Stonestreet

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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