Pope Francis
Pope Francis attends the closing session of the "Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and west for Human Coexistence", at the Al Fida square at the Sakhir Royal palace, in Bahrain, on Friday, November 4, 2022. Image Credit: AP

I greet you all most cordially and I am grateful for your welcome to this Forum of dialogue organised under the patronage of His Majesty the King of Bahrain. This country takes its name from its waters: the name Bahrain means “two seas”. It make us think of the waters of the sea, which bring lands and nations into contact and connect distant peoples. In the words of an ancient proverb, “What the land divides, the sea unites”. The Earth, seen from above, appears as a vast blue sea that unites different shores. From the heavens, it seems to remind us that we are indeed one family: not islands, but one great archipelago. This is how the Most High wants us to be, and this country, which is an archipelago of over thirty islands, can well symbolise that desire.

Yet we are living at a time when humanity, connected as never before, appears much more divided than united. Here too, the name “Bahrain” can help us to reflect: the “two seas” of which it speaks refer to the fresh waters of its underwater springs and the brackish waters of the Gulf.

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Nowadays, in a somewhat similar way, we find ourselves overlooking two seas with very different waters: the calm, freshwater sea of a serene life together, and the salty sea of indifference, marred by clashes and swept by the winds of war, its destructive billows growing ever more tumultuous, threatening to overwhelm us all.

Tragically, East and West increasingly resemble two opposing seas. We, on the other hand, are here together because we all intend to set sail on the same waters, choosing the route of encounter rather than that of confrontation, the path of dialogue indicated by the title of this Forum: “East and West for Human Coexistence”.

The Creator invites us to act, especially on behalf all those many creatures of his who do not yet find a sufficient place on the agenda of the powerful: the poor, the unborn, the elderly, the infirm, migrants

- Pope Francis

After two terrible world wars, a cold war that for decades kept the world in suspense, catastrophic conflicts taking place in every part of the globe, and in the midst of accusations, threats and condemnations, we continue to find ourselves on the brink of a delicate precipice and we do not want to fall. It is a striking paradox that, while the majority of the world’s population is united in facing the same difficulties, suffering from grave food, ecological and pandemic crises, as well as an increasingly scandalous global injustice, a few potentates are caught up in a resolute struggle for partisan interests, reviving obsolete rhetoric, redesigning spheres of influence and opposing blocs.

Such will be the bitter consequences if we continue to accentuate conflict instead of understanding, if we persist in stubbornly imposing our own models and despotic, imperialist, nationalist and populist visions, if we are unconcerned about the culture of others, if we close our ears to the plea of ordinary people and the voice of the poor, if we continue simplistically to divide people into good and bad, if we make no effort to understand one another and to cooperate for the good of all. These are the choices before us since, in a globalised world, we only advance by rowing together; if we sail alone, we go adrift.

The Creator invites us to act, especially on behalf all those many creatures of his who do not yet find a sufficient place on the agenda of the powerful: the poor, the unborn, the elderly, the infirm, migrants … If we who believe in the God of mercy, do not give a hearing to the poor and a voice to the voiceless, who will do it? Let us take their side; let us make every effort to assist a humanity wounded and sorely tried! By doing so, we will draw down upon our world the blessing of the Most High. May he enlighten our journey and join our hearts, our minds and our strength, so that our worship of God may be matched by a concrete and fraternal love of our neighbour. So that, together, we may be prophets of community, artisans of unity and builders of peace.