Pope Francis received King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain in audience on May 19.
An estimated 10% of the people in the Persian Gulf island nation are Christians; most Christians there are Asian guest workers. Conversion from Islam to Christianity is forbidden, but the nation is permitting the construction of a cathedral for the apostolic vicar who ministers to Catholics there.
The Pope and the king, who has ruled Bahrain since 1999, discussed Middle East peace and stability. “Mention was then made of the Christian community’s positive contribution to the country, and appreciation was expressed for His Majesty’s personal interest in the needs of the local Catholic community,” according to the Holy See Press Office.
Following their discussion, the King met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States.
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